Opioid Risk Predictor


BOCA RATON, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) Late last month, President Trump signed into law landmark new opioid legislation. The Support for Patients and Communities Act is designed to stop illegal drugs at the border, and it establishes supports for other treatments, recovery and prevention.

Today, surfing is a great passion of James Fata, but earlier in his life was something else …

“I tried my first drug at the age of 12, and then I quickly progressed to the one I liked the most, which was opiates,” said Fata.

Like millions of Americans, Fata liked the way the pills made him feel.

“It numbed all the anxiety and negative emotions that were always in me,” Fata shared with Ivanhoe.

Janet Robishaw, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research & Chair of Biomedical Sciences at Charles E Schmidt College of Medicine from Florida Atlantic University says the overprescribing of painkillers like Vicodin and oxycontin has led to a condition called opioid use disorder.

(Read Full Interiew)

“This is a chronic relapsing disease that they’re going to have for the rest of their life,” Robishaw said.

Robishaw and her team at Florida Atlantic University wanted to know if some people were at a higher risk of developing an addiction to opioids, so they studied the genes of 25,000 chronic pain patients.

“About 20 percent of the patients clearly showed that they’ve gone on to show signs that they’re developing an addiction,” Robishaw told Ivanhoe.

Robishaw says the goal of the study is to create an “addiction risk score” to help doctors better assess patients.

“If we could identify the 20 percent of patients ahead of time that are at high risk of developing addiction we will not prescribe those patients opioids.” She said.

After years of relapsing, Fata got clean thanks to treatment. He believes genetics may have played a role in his addiction.

“How the results could have been different if I were to have seen somebody and been assessed,” Fata mused.

With hopes of saving others from addiction in the future.

Fata is currently pursuing a degree in social work to help others dealing with addiction. Robishaw hopes to create a predictor tool doctors can use in the next five years. Her study is supported by a $4 million  grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4493

 BACKGROUND: Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive, and opioid overdose rates began to increase. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

(Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis)

STUDY: A researcher from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine has received a five-year, $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help solve the “one-size-fits-all” approach to prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Currently, little data exists on clinical characteristics and genetic variants that suggest risk for opioid use disorder. In a new study, Janet Robishaw, PhD, professor and chair within the Department of Biomedical Science in FAU’s College of Medicine, and colleagues from Geisinger Health System and the University of Pennsylvania, are assessing clinical and genetic characteristics of a large number of patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain and receiving prescription opioids. As part of the DiscovEHR project, they have leveraged data from Geisinger’s central biorepository and electronic health record (EHR) database to conduct large-scale genomics research and phenotype development.

(Source: http://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/prescription-opioid-study.php)

NEW RESEARCH: The genome-wide association study will help the researchers determine if there is a particular subset of genes and genetic variants that may make people more susceptible to becoming addicted to prescription opioids. Once they are able to generate the hypothesis that a gene is responsible for increasing risk, the next steps for research will involve functional studies on those top associations to prove a cause.

(Source: http://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/prescription-opioid-study.php)


Gisele Galoustian, PR Florida Atlantic University



If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Janet Robishaw, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Professor and Chair of Biomedical Sciences

Read the entire Q&A