NIH – Applying Metabolomics to Drive Biomarker Discovery in Symptom Science (R01, R21 Clinical Trial Optional)

November 10, 2017 by School of Medicine Webmaster

The following description was taken from the R01 version of this FOA:

Although there are well-known biomarkers of disease, e.g., hemoglobin A1C for diabetes, there are few biomarkers to manage symptoms that may precede or coincide with various conditions/illnesses. For example, fatigue and impaired sleep are common symptoms reported in by individuals with heart failure or undergoing chemotherapy, but biomarkers that can explain, predict or monitor these symptoms are limited.

A symptom is the subjective evidence of an illness or condition that is experienced by a patient. Symptoms are the result of a complex interaction of biological, cognitive, behavioral, sociocultural, spiritual, and environmental factors. Managing recurring or chronic symptoms is often challenging as symptoms rarely remain static. Some patients may experience isolated symptoms (e.g., headache pain); however, many conditions result in characteristic symptom clusters (e.g., pain, sleep difficulties, and mood changes).

Genomics research is generating biomarker data to understand symptom phenotypes. Another omics approach that has received less attention, yet has substantial potential for advancing biomarker discovery, is metabolomics:  the study of low molecular weight molecules or metabolites found within cells and biological systems. Using metabolomics, metabolite profiles can be generated, representing the functional state of the organism. Importantly, metabolomics can bridge the gap between phenotype and data obtained through genomics, proteomics and other “omics” in order to understand perturbations in homeostasis that may lead to particular symptoms.

Advances in high throughput technology and bioinformatics are now providing tools to simultaneously measure many metabolites. In addition, the foundational knowledge of metabolic pathways can provide logical entry points for identifying potential biomarkers as related to symptoms, e.g., targeted metabolite profiling. Metabolomics to accelerate biomarker discovery offers the potential for an enriched understanding of symptoms and a means to monitor symptom management and treatment.

Research Objectives

Research projects of interest include, but are not limited to, those that address:

  • Identification of biomarkers of symptoms, including fatigue, impaired sleep, pain, nausea, dyspnea, and cognitive impairment, using metabolomic approaches
  • Application of metabolite profiling and biomarker discovery tools to discriminate symptomatic from asymptomatic individuals, differing symptoms, and/or varying symptoms experienced by individuals with similar conditions/illnesses
  • Influence of particular metabolite profiles in combination with genetic variants on symptom risk, management and response to treatment
  • Assessment of biomarkers as gleaned from metabolomic approaches to facilitate personalized health strategies for symptom management
  • This FOA focuses on both preclinical and clinical research.  The NIH recognizes that certain studies may be restricted to animal or cell line models at present because appropriate human research models are not available, or human studies are otherwise not feasible. For acute or chronic conditions that cannot be pursued in human tissues, applicants may propose to work in mammalian models or cell lines, but must provide a specific rationale for why the use of these model systems is essential to further the understanding of symptom science.

Interdisciplinary collaborations that include nurse scientists in the project team are strongly encouraged. Additionally, applicants should consider engaging the resources and expertise of NIH-supported Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Cores and/or other federally-funded research centers as feasible to facilitate the proposed research.

Deadlines:  standard dates and standard AIDS dates apply


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities