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Rapid Assessment of Illicit Drugs in Wastewater

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 2R44DA051105-02
Agency Tracking Number: R44DA051105
Amount: $1,742,186.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIDA
Solicitation Number: DA19-019
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-03-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-02-29
Small Business Information
Newton, MA 02466-1311
United States
DUNS: 066594979
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (781) 529-0581
Business Contact
Phone: (781) 529-0500
Research Institution

Opioid crisis (abuse and misuse) is an epidemic of global concern to public health and safety, causing over
70,000 deaths annually in the United States. Obtaining real-time data on the use of opioids is a major
challenge as this information is limited to population surveys and drug surveillance data. There is an urgent
public health need for monitoring tools to achieve crucial insight into the prevalence of opioid misuse/abuse
without stigmatizing communities. Wastewater monitoring is a proven strategy to identify areas needing
intervention instead of relying on emergency-room statistics and overdose deaths. However, current
wastewater drug analysis requires costly laboratory-based tests that involves labor intensive sample collection,
transportation, and analysis, resulting in long (days) turnaround times. Giner proposes to develop a compact,
portable, label-free Graphene Field Effect Transistor (G-FET) sensor utilizing high-specificity aptamers for
rapid, accurate, cost-effective, and multiplexing monitoring of opioid drug metabolites in wastewater samples.
Since it generates rapid results compared to incumbent methods which rely on batch sampling of wastewater
streams followed by expensive, time consuming analysis, this technology will provide actionable real time data
at a fraction of the cost of incumbent methods, encouraging broad use.
The goal of Phase II program is to demonstrate a field-ready prototype and a test methodology for
simultaneous detection of multiple opioid metabolites in wastewater at pg/mL levels. During the Phase I work,
Giner successfully detected three opioid metabolites in wastewater samples that are also associated with
street heroin use: Norfentanyl (a metabolite of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid), EDDP (a metabolite of methadone,
fully synthetic opioid), and Noroxycodone (a semisynthetic opioid, metabolite of oxycodone). We will also add
Morphine (main heroine metabolite, a natural opioid) to our Phase II program. Multiple samples from
wastewater treatment plants will be analyzed with Giner’s sensor and results will be cross-validated using the
gold standard HPLC-MS/MS method. Giner will achieve this by using its prior expertise in bio/sensors and
wastewater testing and in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and
environmental wastewater epidemiologists. Once developed, the technology will also be suitable for detection
of any target illicit drug for which an aptamer can be prepared.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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