Researchers Are Developing Bio-Nano-Chip Technology to Improve Treatment for Opioid Misuse

InteliSpark client SensoDX, LLC, was awarded $760,245 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase II of their project, “Next Generation Tools for Onsite Monitoring and Treatment of Drug Abuse-Dependent Persons.”

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a huge economic burden in the U.S. The overall associated costs for OUD have risen from $11.8 billion in 2001 to $78.5 billion in 2016. Even more devastating is the loss of life; over ten million people in the U.S. misused opioids in 2018, and on average, 130 Americans die every day of opioid overdose.

What differentiates OUD from other substance use disorders is the physical dependence on opioids within a very short period of time. Also, people have difficulty quitting due to extreme withdrawal symptoms which only encourages continued use.

Medications that reduce withdrawal systems such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone show promise in treating addiction, but current drug testing tools that practitioners use to monitor patient progress have significant limitations. Existing drug testing are slow in yielding results, require tedious sample processing, are non-quantitative, and have limited capacity in detecting multiple opioids at once.

To meet this need for improved drug testing as part of comprehensive services to support patient recovery, SensoDX has developed a drug of abuse testing-on-a chip technology that is highly sensitive and capable of detecting multiple drugs in one test. In this phase II funded Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project, researchers will expand the test’s capability to detecting seven drugs and will validate its clinical efficacy in patients undergoing medication-assisted treatment.

Dr. Robert Mehalso, CEO of SensoDX and nanotechnology expert, is leading this research effort. If Mehalso and the research team are able to bring this drug screen platform to market successfully, it may have tremendous social and economic benefits on society.