NIH Awards Microbiome Grants for Whole Genome Amplification of Single Cells

The National Institutes of Health this week awarded grants to a pair of technologies designed to enable whole-genome amplification of single cells for downstream analysis by sequencing as part of the Human Microbiome Project.

The first grant, worth $538,000 over two years and awarded to researchers from GE Global Research, will support the development of a whole-genome DNA amplification method based on multiple displacement amplification that will enable high-throughput DNA sequencing of entire genomes from single cells, eliminating the requirement to purify and culture each isolate, the grant’s abstract states.

The second grant, good for $440,000 over two years, will enable Stanford University scientists to develop an approach for plating, selecting, and amplifying whole genomic DNA from individual microbial cells in a hydrogel matrix, according to the grant’s abstract.

And although the two grants collectively represent a little under $1 million of the approximately $42 million worth of grants recently awarded by the NIH for human microbiome research, they may help address many of the inherent technical difficulties of isolating, amplifying, and sequencing genetic material from microorganisms that colonize various parts of the human body.