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Tools for Germplasm Cryopreservation


Tools for germplasm cryopreservation have become increasingly important in enabling repositories to meet the needs for establishing banks of animal germplasm for current and future research needs. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) solicits applications from SBCs for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects that propose innovative research in the areas of animal germplasm cryopreservation methods, reagents, equipment, biosecurity, and the detection of disease, including the vertical transmission of disease.

The ability to produce transgenic, knockout, and mutant stocks has provided biomedical researchers with many useful animal models for the study of human diseases. However, the requirements to maintain these and other strains as live animals can overwhelm the capacity of even the largest stock centers. The number of strains is so great that it has become impossible in terms of cost, space, and manpower to maintain more than a fraction of them as breeding colonies. Consequently, an increasing proportion of animals are being maintained by cryopreservation of their germplasm. However, ongoing and planned large scale mutant and screening projects have increased the need for efficient and efficacious technologies that can address the current and future needs of repositories; namely, to preserve animal germplasm and more efficiently manage and distribute animals and related biological materials.

In April 2007, a NIH workshop entitled, Achieving High Throughput Repositories for Biomedical Germplasm Preservation (Cryopreservation Workshop report) was held to assess the need for cryopreservation of the large numbers of genetically-engineered animals from multiple species that have been created, or will be created, as a result of NIH Roadmap and Trans-NIH initiatives, such as the Knockout Mouse Project, Target-Selected Mutagenesis in Zebrafish, and Neuromouse Project. At that meeting, the status of germplasm cryopreservation and drying technologies was assessed for animal models for translational research. A major recommendation at that meeting is to encourage the development of high-throughput and scaleable technologies for germplasm collection, evaluation, processing and cryopreservation to shorten and refine the processes to meet the research community needs for high-quality animal germplasm preservation.

To help address this recommendation, the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) invites applications from SBCs for Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) to develop tools to enhance cryopreservation technologies for the preservation of, and secure long-term maintenance of sperm, embryos, oocytes, and other forms of laboratory animal germplasm. Examples of such research may include but are not limited to: 1) new storage devices that enhance long-term viability; 2) specialized reagents to improve cryopreservation, vitrification and drying of germplasm; 3) reagents to test for germplasm viability; 4) machinery to reduce the variability of the quality of sperm, embryos and oocytes during collection, processing, storage and reanimation; 5) research tools to reduce or eliminate the large individual male-to-male variability with respect to the quality of collected sperm and survival following cryopreservation; and 6) improved biosecurity tools for the screening, diagnosis and elimination of selected diseases of laboratory animals, including vertical and horizontal transmission. The target species for this FOA include, but are not limited to, rodents, nonhuman primates, and aquatic models used in biomedical research. Applications proposing research projects involving predominantly agricultural or farm animals will be considered lower priority

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

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