Base Pair Biotechnologies to develop point-of-care tests for opioids in newborns

Base Pair Biotechnologies, Inc., the Aptamer Discovery Company, announced today the receipt of a Fast Track Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to develop a new platform to detect opioids and their primary metabolites in newborns.

Newborn babyOver 80,000 newborns are affected by neonatal abstinence syndrome each year.

Exposure to opioids in utero causes addiction, which, upon birth results in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome - severe withdrawal. >2% of the four million babies per year born in the United States (U.S.) are known to be affected; the actual number is likely higher. Diagnosis immediately after birth will enable rapid treatment.

Today's process involves testing only if symptoms develop prior to release from hospital or birthing center – resulting in readmission to the neonatal intensive care unit, plus medical complications.

The economic burden of the U.S. opioid epidemic exceeds $80B/year, but too few people are aware of these innocent victims. Over 80,000 newborns/year are affected, increasing newborn hospital stays eight-fold and costs twenty-fold; causing unnecessary pain and suffering."

Vicki Singer, President & CEO of Base Pair

Aptamers are small, single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules that are identified and manufactured in vitro, which fold into shapes that fit their targets, the way a key fits a lock. Base Pair's patented method for multiplexing the aptamer discovery process allows the company to identify aptamers for dozens of targets at the same time.

While it's difficult for antibodies to distinguish between closely related small molecule drugs, we tailor selection to identify the specific aptamers we want to isolate."

Bill Jackson, Founder & Chief Scientist

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