2019-123 – Signature miRNA to predict Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS)

Background Infants who have had in utero exposures from maternal substance abuse can experience central nervous system effects of the drugs, including drug toxicity and withdrawal. In utero exposure to opioids and medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can result in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS), which now affects 6 per 1,000 hospital births. There is a broad variability in the onset and severity of NOWS, and decisions about treatment options are typically delayed until the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Thus, the current standards of care are reactive rather than proactive. Often times, infants exposed to opioids in utero will develop withdrawal signs and symptoms that are severe enough to warrant pharmacologic treatment. There is an unmetneed for biomarkers in the neonate that will enable clinicians to predict NOWS severity before the onset of withdrawal, so that treatment decisions can be made proactively. Technology Description Researchers at the University of New Mexico and Texas A & M University have identified neonatal cord blood miRNAs as biomarkers of Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS). The methodology involved a cohort study by comparing a number of unique blood samples of neonates with NOWS requiring pharmacological treatment vs. infants exposed to opioids prenatally who did not develop NOWS. It was determined that intra- and extra-cellular miRNAs are differentially expressed in treated compared to not-treated infants, potentially indicating NOWS vulnerability prior to development of withdrawal symptoms. The biomarker identification is aimed towards pre-detection of the syndrome in suspected neonates; such that, effective measures can be taken to treat those exhibiting symptoms and inhibit, limit and/or reverse NOWS shortly after birth. Gregg Banninger GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu 505-272-7908

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