Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has announced the start of two projects that are aimed at reducing the amount of people who become addicted to opioids.
Yost’s office will launch a study that will seek to find links between certain genetic markers and opioid addiction to see what genetic factors may contribute to the addiction. The office will also launch a task force whose job will be to develop techniques and strategies to prevent addiction. The task force will include medical experts, behavior economists, data analysts and others.
“While Ohio’s first responders and treatment and recovery experts are fighting a heroic battle to curb opioid-related fatalities, the key to victory is to stop people from becoming addicted in the first place,” Yost said in a news release. “The two projects we are launching aim to prevent people from entering the addiction pipeline.”
The study will seek to determine what genetic markers associated with opioid abuse and what marks are associated with addiction risk in the population as a whole. It will also seek to develop an “Addiction Risk Score” that will classify a patient’s likelihood of getting an opioid use disorder. The study will also look into previous opioid exposure, current opioid use and other health history.
Up to 1,500 emergency department patients at the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University will be recruited for the scientific study. Researchers will collect a cheek swab to test DNA markers that scientists believe may be linked to opioid addiction. They will compare the genetic markers of those with addiction and those without to see whether a link can be found.
“Genetics and addiction often go hand-in-hand, but we need to find out how and translate this knowledge into clinical practice if we want to gain the upper hand in the battle against opioid addiction.” Yost said. “If we can prevent the problem, we can ultimately win the war.”
The study will be led by two doctors: Dr. Jon Sprague and Dr. Caroline Freiermuth. Sprague will create the task force. Sprague is the Director of Science and Research for the Attorney General’s Office and Freiermuth is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.