SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Sorrento Valley company is working to create an implant that will help people kick their addiction to both opioids and alcohol.
BioCorRx, based in Orange County, is developing the implant. They chose San Diego-based Irisys Therapeutics to help them build it.
"It’s not going to fix the opioid crisis," says BioCorRx CEO Brady Granier. "But it’s going to be another tool in a tool chest of those people looking for another solution and one that will help them get through the cravings."
The implant uses Naltrexone, a drug already approved by the FDA as an every-day pill or a once-per-month shot. Naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain so that opioids or alcohol won't have any effect on people who use them. It also helps curb cravings.
"As long as it’s blocking the receptor, the opioids come in, and they can’t engage with that receptor to give you the euphoria or the respiratory depression that leads to overdose," says Granier. "It’s protecting you."
Granier says creating an implant that lasts three months will make it more likely that people will be able to beat their addition. The implant, named BICX102, would be implanted into a person's stomach fat and dissolve slowly over three months.
"The goal is to give someone a longer period of time to address those issues without the intrusive cravings coming in," he says. "A lot of behavioral changes can take place in 90 days that you can’t do in 30."
Granier's company just received a $5.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It will last two years, which Granier says will fund the research through the development of the implant and some early testing.
He's hoping to start human testing by 2020.
Granier says implants like the one he is hoping to create are already available in other countries. But the FDA has yet to approve one in the US, where standards are more strict.
"The first pellet you make needs to be exactly the same as the 10,000th," he says. "It has to be a precise process."
It's personal for Granier, who has family members with addiction in their past. He also worked as a nurse before starting his company. Granier says he saw the destructive effects of addiction every day. Now he's hoping to find a solution.
"It’s rare to find a good opportunity where you can make a social impact and be an entrepreneur at the same time," he says.