In 2013, the NIH Common Fund awarded approximately $130 million over six years to scientists nationwide for projects to improve our understanding of exRNA communication. NIH funded 30 multidisciplinary research projects that address a number of critical scientific areas:
- exRNA biogenesis, biodistribution, uptake and effector function — how cells make and release exRNA, how and where exRNAs travel through body fluids to other cells, how the cells take in these exRNA molecules, and how exRNAs change cell function.
- Reference profiles — to generate a catalogue of exRNA from a diverse range of healthy human body fluids.
- Biomarker development — how exRNAs from human body fluids might help scientists diagnose and monitor disease progression and response to therapy.
- Therapy development — how exRNAs might be used as therapeutic agents.
- Data management — how to develop a community-wide resource for exRNA standards, protocols and data.
NCATS is administering and providing scientific oversight to 18 of the projects, which focus on development of biomarkers from exRNA found in body fluids and the design of new ways to use exRNA in treatments.
The National Cancer Institute is overseeing five collaborative, multidisciplinary projects that address the scientific areas of exRNA biogenesis, biodistribution, uptake and effector functions.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is supporting a project to develop a Data Management and Resource Repository to house all of the data generated by these projects, including a public exRNA Atlas website to serve as a community-wide resource for exRNA research standards, protocols, data, tools and technology.
As of 2014, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is administering another six projects to generate a comprehensive reference profile of circulating RNA in a range of body fluid types.
All 30 awards are milestone-driven cooperative agreements. Individual projects will receive support for up to six years, except the Data Management and Resource Repository, which could be supported longer.
Learn more about all of the ExRNA Communication projects from the NIH Common Fund.
- RFA-RM-12-010: Data Management and Resource Repository (DMRR) on Extracellular RNA (U54)
- RFA-RM-12-012: Extracellular RNA Biogenesis, Biodistribution, Uptake, and Effector Function (U19)
- RFA-RM-12-013: Clinical Utility of Extracellular RNA for Biomarker Development (UH2/UH3)
- RFA-RM-12-014: Clinical Utility of Extracellular RNA for Therapy Development (UH2/UH3)
- RFA-RM-13-014: Defining A Comprehensive Reference Profile of Circulating Human Extracellular RNA (U01)