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Application and Use of Transformative Emerging Technologies in Cancer Research

To view funding opportunities for the Application of Emerging Technologies for Cancer Research program, click here.

Objectives and Scope

These RFAs are intended to support projects to evaluate the usefulness of emerging technologies in appropriate biological contexts in order to assess reproducibility and produce preliminary data toward a biological or clinical question. Technologies proposed for these RFAs should be sufficiently advanced in development to be applied in a relevant clinical or biological context.

Researchers may propose development beyond the initial phase of emerging technologies that have the potential to be transformative when used for cancer research and/or in cancer-relevant clinical care. Proposals should focus on application of the technology in a cancer-relevant setting to generate preliminary data to prove that the technology functions reproducibly and effectively in the chosen biological context and thereby validate the capabilities of the technology. These data may then be used by the investigator or by others to propose new projects using the technology to answer biological or clinical questions, through other existing program announcements (for example, see the Division of Cancer Prevention and the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) or as investigator-initiated R01 applications. The data generated would likely allow the technology developers to either seek partnerships with clinical or biological investigators with questions that the new technology could elucidate or to partner with industry to further refine the technology into a commercial product.

It is expected that investigators who developed successful cancer-relevant technologies under previous IMAT initiatives will propose projects for these RFAs. However, these RFAs are not limited to technologies developed under the IMAT Program. Investigators may propose to begin to utilize any emerging cancer-relevant technology. Areas of emerging technologies of interest to be applied in these projects include, but are not limited to, those technologies that enable:

  • In vitro scanning for and identification of the sites of chromosomal aberrations which reflect inherited aberrations or somatic alterations resulting from aging or oxidation, or exposure to radiation or carcinogens, including those that are suitable for scaling for use across whole genomes, detecting DNA adducts, or detecting rare variants in mixed populations
  • In vitro scanning for and identification of sites of mutations and polymorphisms that reflect inherited aberrations or variations, or somatic alterations resulting from aging, oxidation, or exposure to radiation or carcinogens, including those that are suitable for scaling for screening whole genomes, detecting DNA adducts, or identifying infrequently represented mutations in mixed populations of DNA molecules
  • Technologies for detection and characterization of nucleic acid sequences of novel exogenous infectious agents that may be present in human cancer
  • Highly specific and sensitive detection of specific mutations
  • Detecting mismatch and recombinational DNA repair related to cancer susceptibility and drug sensitivity
  • In vitro multiplexed analysis of the expression of genes
  • In vitro detection of expression of proteins and their modified forms, including technologies suitable for expansion to profiling of all proteins expressed in cells, detecting rare variants in mixed populations, and detecting protein adducts involved in chemical mutation
  • Monitoring the function of proteins and genetic pathways, including measurement of ligand-protein complexes and technologies for monitoring protein function of all members of a class of proteins or a complete genetic pathway
  • Delineating molecular expression, function and analysis at the cellular level in the context of both the whole body and in situ , including molecular imaging technologies suitable at this scale, contrast agents, gene amplification techniques and related data analysis tools
  • Technologies to elucidate molecular modifications of macromolecules that may be indicative of and critical to the transformation process
  • Delivery technologies and approaches to enable faster and more accurate delivery of molecular and cellular labels and drugs to and within cells for research and treatment with the overall goals being speed, accuracy, and biocompatibility
  • Development of high-throughput, quantitative assays for epigenetic alterations, e.g., acetylation and methylation, in promoter region of genes and histone proteins isolated from biological fluids and tissues

For all projects proposed, it will be important to substantiate the ultimate value of and role for the technology in deciphering the molecular anatomy of cancer cells or analyzing the molecular profile of the individual. Inherent in this early technology application is the potential for ultimately transferring knowledge gained, technology, and/or methodology to other laboratories or the clinic. In the case of technologies intended for use on clinical specimens or in patients, applications from or collaborations with investigators involved in the clinical research of cancer are encouraged.