NIDA seeks SBIR/STTR apps on Spice, bath salts

C&EN senior business editor Melody Bomgardner dropped me a note yesterday about a new request for applications from NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for small business grants. Read the text below but here's what I find interesting as a pharmacologist who plays well with chemists: the call for applications is not for analytical methods for designer drugs. Rather the announcement solicits novel methods for detecting some biochemical or pharmacological endpoint of these agents (a bioassay, in old-speak) that doesn't require new method development every time a new structural analogue pops onto the market. Other areas of substance abuse are also fair game but Melody thought the Spice and bath salts angle would be of greatest interest to our readers here at Terra Sig. Here's the text directly from NIDA - I can't find an exact RFA to link to, however: (see update below)
NIDA seeks innovative solutions from small businesses, including developing new tests for designer drugs such as Spice, Bath Salts The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is seeking new ways of detecting “designer drug” use (e.g., “K2/Spice” or “Bath Salts”) by promoting the development of biofluid drug screens based on pharmacological activity (how the drug works in the body) rather than chemical structure. Because these “designer drugs” are constantly evolving, they frequently evade currently available structure-based drug screens. NIDA is also seeking solutions to a variety of other drug abuse issues. Specific topics of interest could include, but are not limited to:
  • Human Brain Neurochemical and Molecular Imaging
  • Discovery of New Chemical Probes
  • Nanoscience-based Design of Therapies for Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Drug Discovery – Chemistry and Pharmaceutics
  • Preclinical Drug Development
  • Clinical Drug Development
High priority will be given to research that seeks to (1) develop innovative technologies, methods or tools or (2) apply emerging and existing methods to develop medications to treat addiction. Grant application deadlines are April 5, August 5, or December 5, 2012. For more information, see the Omnibus Solicitation, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: For more information on NIDA’s SBIR/STTR Program, including tips to improve a grant application, go to:
Here's an update I received from NIDA Deputy Press Officer Sheri Grabus:
Hi, David. We read your post (, and we greatly appreciate your getting the word out to your readers. You mentioned in your post that you could not find the RFA. This was part of a large “omnibus” solicitation – one that covered various agencies at HHS. The link to the Omnibus Solicitation can be found at NIDA’s portion starts on page 53. The part specific to developing assays for “designer” drugs of abuse starts on page 57.
Thanks, Sheri!  

Author: David Kroll

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