High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis abound, compete for Ohio grants
A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote-controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.
The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.
Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose.
Tactus Therapeutics Inc., for example, seeks $2.2 million to develop an improved tamper-resistant opioid, while other applicants seek money to pursue technological advances in the administration of naloxone, a drug used as an overdose antidote. One is a “rescue mask.”
Other grant-seekers propose migrating away from pills altogether to find new ways of fighting pain.
In the Ohio city known for innovations in rubber and plastics, the University of Akron is looking to polymers. It seeks $2 million to advance development of implantable therapeutic meshes loaded with nonopioid pain medications capable of alleviating post-surgical pain for up to 96 hours.
Another company, Cleveland-based Innovative Medical Equipment LLC, seeks $810,000 to make engineering improvements to a medical apparatus that uses heat to fight head pain, headaches, muscle and joint pain and pain after surgery.
Additional proposals look to neural therapies, electrical impulses, even virtual reality, as ways to overcome or outwit pain.
Many applicants propose ways of using smart technology to prevent overdose deaths by approaching the problem through the patient, doctor or community.