WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Matthew Leonard Becker, Ph.D., W. Gerald Austen Endowed Chair of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering; Professor of Polymer Science and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Polymer Science, The University of Akron, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Becker was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for developing novel families of degradable polymers for use in additive manufacturing, regenerative medicine and drug delivery.
One way the state of Ohio is trying to combat the opioid crisis is by funding new technologies to prevent addiction.
Last month the University of Akron shared in $10 million in state grants as part of that initiative.
On this Week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at how a personal experience with opioids inspired a local researcher’s quest for new methods of pain relief.
Our nation’s problem with pain management hit University of Akron polymer scientist Matthew Becker recently when his wife had laparoscopic surgery.
“I took her home from the hospital,” he says, with a prescription that called for 60 pain meds. “She took one,” says Becker.
Before stricter prescribing limits took effect in 2017, Ohio pharmacies were handing out more than 260 million opioid pills per year for acute pain, part of 750 million overall annual opioid doses.
The flood of pain meds fed an epidemic of abuse… Continue reading.
Ohio holds a singular place in America’s opioid scourge. In 2014 it suffered more overdose deaths than any other state. Since then such fatalities have only swelled, with 4,050 in 2016—a 32.8 percent increase from the previous year, according to health officials. Fueled by prescription painkillers as well as heroin and fentanyl, the epidemic has overrun city morgues, forced thousands of children into foster care and turned Montgomery County, which encompasses Dayton, into the overdose capital of the U.S.
Last year Ohio poured nearly $1 billion into fighting the crisis through prevention, treatment and law enforcement. But the state keeps surpassing its own grim statistics. Exasperated, local authorities have begun confronting the disaster from another angle—technology. In May the state signed off on Gov. John Kasich’s request to invest $20 million in accelerating high-tech scientific measures to address the situation. Universities, hospitals and medical device manufacturers are now vying for grant money with proposals that include implantable therapeutic meshes and systems that deliver electric nerve jolts.
Matthew Becker, an associate dean at the University of Akron’s Department of Polymer Science, says personal outrage drove him to apply for grant money. When his wife underwent minor laparoscopic surgery earlier this year, she was prescribed roughly 60 doses of the opioid painkiller oxycodone for postoperative pain, at a cost of $6. The quantity of pills she was prescribed, at such a low cost, dismayed Becker. After they threw away the unused drugs, Becker began to wonder about nonopioid alternatives for pain management. So in May his research team—which has developed degradable polymers already used in procedures such as hernia repairs—began examining whether it could use this material as an implantable and more effective platform for existing pain medication. To Becker’s knowledge, the technology has never been used this way before… Continue reading.