BreviTest Awarded Grant from Natl Inst on Drug Abuse to Optimize Device for Rapid Cannabis Testing
Friday, April 15, 2016
Posted by: Kate Oesterle
ANN ARBOR, MI, AND HOUSTON, TX, APRIL 12, 2016 - BreviTest Technologies has been awarded a $234,412 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore rapid testing for THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis. The federal funds, awarded under the NIH’s Small Business Innovation Research program, will be used to develop BreviTest’s rapid robotic analyzer into a curbside saliva test of cannabis intoxication for use by law enforcement, physicians, and end-users.
In collaboration with Michigan-based Cayman Chemical Company, BreviTest aims to develop its portable analyzer to accurately test THC levels in a variety of settings such as use by law enforcement during impaired traffic stops, legal consumers to determine driving limits and for industry testing of cannabis potency.
Unlike testing in clinical laboratories, which can take several hours and requires expensive equipment and experienced technicians, BreviTest’s point-of-care technology can perform tests in the field in less than ten minutes using customizable disposable cartridges and established chemistries. In contrast to competitor point-of-care technologies, BreviTest provides fully quantitative results in just ten minutes.
“The limitations of current THC testing require urine or blood samples. Given the recent wave of legislation to legalize marijuana, there’s an urgent need to establish testing methods that can be done in minutes at the curbside and with a simple swab of saliva,” said BreviTest’s Michael Heffernan, PhD, principal investigator on the project.
Testing of saliva is preferred both for its ability to predict cannabis intoxication, and on practical grounds. The Supreme Court has ruled warrantless blood draws at traffic stops to be unconstitutional, eliminating blood testing as a practical curbside testing option. Measuring THC in urine is complicated by the fact that THC metabolites remain in the body for weeks after its effects have worn off.
“Standard urinalysis methods are not an accurate indication of current impairment. Our goal is to limit detection to present intoxication much like the Breathalyzer, and that’s our sweet spot.” said Erol Bakkalbasi, co-investigator for BreviTest.
BreviTest’s novel approach re-imagines the enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) method as serial reactions in connected microfluidic chambers, which eliminates the traditional requirement of multiple washes to comprehensively remove residual reactants. BreviTest’s patent-pending technology has been reduced to practice with a prototype that successfully demonstrated completely automated ELISA reactions.
Michael Pisano, Ph.D. Vice President Biochemistry at Cayman said, “The combination of BreviTest’s platform and our expertise in assay development make a great team and ensures success. We look forward to working with BreviTest in developing this device as there will be a demand for rapid intoxication testing as more states legalize the use of marijuana. It will be necessary to have the ability to know when a driver or employee is impaired and this portable analyzer will allow for that.”
BreviTest Technologies, LLC is managed by Fannin Innovation Studio, an early-stage life science development firm that provides seed capital, office space and management support to its roster of portfolio companies.
About Cayman Chemical
Cayman Chemical Company helps make research possible by supplying scientists worldwide with biochemical tools used to understand cancer, neurochemistry, oxidative injury, endocrinology, atherosclerosis and other human health challenges. We specialize in assay kits for the measurement of hormones and biomarkers. In addition, Cayman offers a broad range of specialty biochemicals used as research reagents and qualified standards. Cayman performs generic drug development and production in both Ann Arbor, Michigan and Neratovice, Czech Republic. Cayman Chemical employs approximately 300 people worldwide.
About BreviTest Technologies, LLC
Founded in 2013, BreviTest is an early-stage life sciences company that has developed a biomedical assay platform technology to perform ELISAs in a microfluidic environment. The patent-pending technology has been reduced to practice with a point-of-care device. Significant advantages over current options include ultra-portable form factor, one-step user operation, runtime of under 10 minutes, low price points for device and tests, and disposable cartridges catering to a wide variety of tests on the same platform, while maintaining standard-of-care sensitivity and specificity.
About Fannin Innovation Studio
Houston-based Fannin Innovation Studio is an early-stage life sciences development group focused exclusively on commercializing medical technologies. Fannin partners with life science innovators to co-found startup companies by providing a pooled management team, central office space and seed funding. To further bridge the commercialization gap, Fannin’s apprenticeship program provides aspiring entrepreneurs with hands-on development experience with its portfolio companies. For more information, visit www.FanninInnovation.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.