A Medical Device Daily

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (New York) has awarded nearly $1.9 million total to six teams working to develop neuroimaging technologies that would allow scientists to non-invasively visualize the clumping of the alpha-synuclein protein in the living human brain.

Such technologies would dramatically accelerate research into the cause, progression and treatment of PD. Investigators could more accurately identify individuals with PD as well as better characterize disease pathology and relate it to clinical measures of onset and progression.

There also is growing interest in therapeutics that directly target alpha-synuclein; hence, a non-invasive imaging tool would be a useful therapeutic response marker for drug makers wishing to test biological impact of potentially disease-modifying drugs. Such tools would have a huge impact on clinical trial designs, allowing for more accurate patient selection and clearer trial outcome measures.

In other grants news, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program said its deadline for applications is Feb. 27 for new SBIR Phase II Bridge Awards, which are intended to accelerate the development of new cancer therapies and imaging technologies toward commercialization and to promote partnerships.

The grants, which were launched under the new pilot program last summer, more than triple the amount of funding available to NCI SBIR program applicants and are aimed at bridging the financial gap between the end of a Phase II award and the commercialization stage of a therapy—the so-called valley of death.

The NCI intends to commit up to $10 million in fiscal year 2009 to fund up to 10 applications.

The Bridge Award funding opportunity is open to current and recently expired NIH SBIR Phase II projects, the NCI said. Current awardees must be in the final year of their Phase II project period to apply. Past Phase II projects in general should have ended within 24 months of the application receipt date.

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