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June 2014 DMID Council-Approved Concepts

Concepts represent early planning stages for program announcements, request for applications, or solicitations for Council's input. If NIAID publishes an initiative from one of these concepts, we link to it below. To find initiatives, go to the Opportunities and Announcements portal.

NB: Council approval does not guarantee that a concept will become an initiative.

Table of Contents

Systems Biology and Antibacterial Resistance

Request for Applications

Contact: Valentina Di Francesco

Objective: To use a systems biology approach to study the changes of molecular interaction networks of the pathogen and host in response to antimicrobial treatment or in association with antimicrobial resistance (AR).

Description: The purpose of this initiative is to promote multidisciplinary systems biology research that employs high-throughput omics technologies, sophisticated data analysis pipelines, and computational modeling techniques to identify and investigate genome-wide molecular interaction networks of the pathogen and host in response to treatment of AR infections. The focus will be on high-priority bacterial pathogens with established resistance.

Data sets derived from multiple omics technologies will be integrated and used to investigate the architecture and dynamics of molecular interaction networks of the AR pathogen and those involved in host responses, including immune, signaling, metabolic, and regulatory responses. Mathematical models of molecular networks provide a framework to efficiently compare differences in host responses to infections caused by phylogenetically related strains of pathogens associated to AR. These network models could also be used to monitor molecular (genes/proteins/lipids/metabolites) interaction and expression changes during AR development to assess the risk of AR emergence, as well as to examine the presence and functional behavior of microbial populations in biofilms during AR infection, treatment, and return to homeostasis.

A comprehensive assessment of infection progression in response to drug treatment derived from extensive molecular profiling analyses of clinical isolates from treatment-responsive and unresponsive patients can support the identification of host factors, including lipids and metabolites, that contribute to drug efficacy or interfere with it. This approach may also lead to identifying early biomarkers of host response to treatment, resolution, or exacerbation of disease. Multi-omics profiling of pathogen isolates or microbial population samples from drug-treated AR patients may shed light on the drug's mechanisms of action and identify pathogen gene targets for rational combination chemotherapy to suppress resistance. These studies may also inform the identification of optimal timing for intervention, predicting drug toxicity or other side effects, providing supporting evidence for drug repurposing, and identifying targets for prophylactic and/or treatment options.

The resources generated under this initiative, which include datasets from omics technologies, computational modeling tools, and experimental protocols for multi-omics analyses of clinical samples and reagents, will be made publicly available to allow the scientific community to validate the systems biology findings and pursue new hypotheses. Research and development activities to evaluate new technologies as they become available will also be performed to assess accuracy, efficiency, and costs.

Applicants are expected to propose the full systems biology cycle of experimental omics data generation: analysis and integration, modeling, and new hypothesis generation and testing, including follow-up validation studies.

Nontraditional Therapeutics That Limit Antibacterial Resistance

Request for Applications

Contact: Michael Schaefer

Objective: To support the discovery and development of nontraditional approaches to combating infectious diseases with the goal of circumventing the trend towards increasing antibiotic resistance.

Description: This initiative will support basic-to-translational research focused on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics to address the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance. Areas to be supported must relate to bacterial pathogens where there is already significant resistance to existing antibiotics or where antibiotic use contributes to bacterial spread and infection, e.g., Clostridium difficile.

The emphasis of this initiative will be on nontraditional treatment strategies that are different than those of traditional small molecule antibacterial compounds. Interventions developed under this initiative should be effective against resistant bacterial pathogens while not inducing or increasing resistance to existing antibiotics.

Examples of nontraditional approaches that would be supported by this initiative include the following:

  • Therapeutic bacteria
    • Human-associated microbiota (either individually or as a consortium) that control pathogen growth either directly through competition or indirectly through modifying the microbiota.
    • Live genetically-engineered bacteria as delivery vehicles for novel antibacterial or other therapeutic agents.
  • Bacteriophage
  • Bacteriocins or narrow-spectrum bactericidal proteins
  • Anti-virulence strategies or therapeutics that target bacterial virulence factors
    • Representative targets include toxins, iron acquisition systems, secretion systems, quorum sensing, biofilms, and adhesions.

Partnerships for Host-Targeted Therapeutics to Limit Antimicrobial Resistance

Request for Applications

Contact: Michael Schaefer

Objective: To provide support for preclinical development of selected candidate therapeutics that target host-encoded functions required for infection, replication, virulence, proliferation, and/or pathogenesis of infectious diseases.

Description: This initiative will support milestone-driven projects focused on advancing candidate host-targeted therapeutics through the product development pathway. These milestones include standard investigational new drug (IND)-enabling activities required for therapeutic products, such as cGMP production of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), identifying an acceptable drug product formulation, successful execution of GMP toxicology studies, completion of proof-of-concept efficacy studies in appropriate models of disease, and preparation of IND and design of future clinical plans.

Emphasis of this initiative will be on developing novel therapeutics that target host-encoded functions required for infection, replication, virulence, proliferation, and/or pathogenesis of infectious microbes of priority to the Division. Therapeutics of interest for this initiative include small molecules or biopharmaceuticals such as monoclonal antibodies, nucleic acids, or peptides to be used as monotherapy or in combination, or as adjunctive therapy with other drugs.

Examples of host-targeted approaches to be supported by this initiative include inhibition of host-encoded functions critical for pathogen infection, replication, virulence, proliferation, or pathogenicity; modulation of host immune response; modulation of host response to reduce disease pathology (e.g., inflammation); and modulation of host metabolism to reduce nutrients critical for pathogen survival.

Of particular importance for novel host-targeted therapeutics will be a detailed consideration and description of the most appropriate clinical and regulatory path to product registration, including addressing potential hurdles such as demonstration of pathogen susceptibility and therapeutic efficacy using nonstandard in vitro assays and disease models. Responsive projects will include preliminary data establishing proof-of-concept for a single selected candidate therapeutic and plans to progress that candidate through preclinical development. Participation of industrial laboratories is expected to facilitate appropriate and validated product development activities.

Development of Therapeutic Products for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases

Broad Agency Announcement

Contact: Alexandra Buck

Objective: To advance the translation of promising therapeutic products against biothreat pathogens and emerging infectious diseases from lead candidate to first-in-human clinical trials.

Description: This initiative will support the necessary development activities to carry a lead candidate product through Phase I clinical testing. Special emphasis will be placed on therapeutics that may fill gaps in our armamentarium, such as therapeutics for filovirus and emerging influenza strains, with particular importance placed on therapies that address antimicrobial resistant pathogens and limit the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Activities will be supported that encompass focused nonclinical development and clinical evaluation (through Phase I only) of treatments to address unmet needs to position new therapies toward advanced development and eventual licensure. Offerors must have already identified a promising candidate therapeutic agent and will propose a comprehensive product development plan for moving their therapeutic candidate through human clinical trials.

Methods of Clinical Sample Preparation for Rapid Detection of Bacterial Pathogens

For the published request for proposals, see the August 15, 2014, Solicitation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contract Proposals.

Development of Novel Influenza Antivirals

For the published request for proposals, see the August 15, 2014, Solicitation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contract Proposals.

Last Updated August 20, 2014

Last Reviewed June 25, 2014