Ceres Nanosciences Receives NIH HEAL Initiative Funding
Monday, October 21, 2019
Ceres Nanosciences, Inc. has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative to apply the powerful Nanotrap technology to the detection of fentanyl in urine and oral fluid. Fentanyl, which is one of the most potent prescription opioids, is often prescribed to treat severe pain, but, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it was detected in more than 55% of all opioid-related overdose deaths. An estimated 10.3 million people in the United States misused opioids in 2016.
The tests currently used to detect fentanyl are problematic. Point-of-care tests cannot distinguish between fentanyl and its derivate compounds and have high false-positive and false-negative rates. Positive results from these tests undergo confirmatory testing at larger clinical laboratories, which adds time and expense and creates testing backlogs. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), hundreds of thousands of samples are processed each year, and this number is expected to rise.
The Nanotrap particle technology improves diagnostic tests by capturing, concentrating, and preserving low abundance analytes, like fentanyl, from biological samples, like urine and oral fluid. This grant from the NIH will support research and development for improved pre-testing sample enrichment of multiple fentanyl derivates, analogs, or synthetic variants.
“We already know that the Nanotrap technology can be used to improve detection of fentanyl in urine samples, but there are dozens, if not hundreds, of fentanyl analogs out there,” said Ben Lepene, CTO of Ceres Nanosciences. “These funds from the NIH will enable us to begin formulating the Nanotrap technology into a platform that could be used by clinical, commercial, and forensic labs for more comprehensive, efficient, and cost-effective sample collection and testing of fentanyl and its analogs.”
“The devastation caused by the opioid epidemic is heart-wrenching,” said Ross Dunlap, CEO of Ceres Nanosciences. “Ceres is honored to have the opportunity to apply our expertise and technology development capabilities to helping to solve this problem.”