In a joint statement, Coriell and Cooper said that the initiative is a first-of-its-kind undertaking to investigate the genetic and biological factors that contribute to the development of opioid use disorder (also referred to as opioid dependence or addiction).
CORI will use a three-pronged approach to its research. With the help of the county and state medical examiner’s office, a novel biobank of biological samples will be established and made available to qualified researchers studying opioid use disorder. These de-identified samples will be collected from individuals who have died as a result of overdose.
CORI will capitalize on Coriell’s expertise in genomics, bio banking and personalized medicine; Cooper University Health Care’s clinical infrastructure and expertise in treating opioid use disorder (OUD) patients; and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s reputation for scientific excellence in genetics, the neurosciences and addiction research.
The CORI team also has established a pair of studies to investigate the genetic and non-genetic factors that underlie opioid use disorder.
The first study will focus on chronic pain patients. Participants enrolled in the study will have their DNA sequenced and will complete questionnaires about their health history. Using these data, CORI researchers will prepare reports for the participants’ physicians, detailing how their patients’ genetic makeup may influence their response to common opioids.
The second study will enroll patients currently participating in Cooper’s Addiction Medicine program who are receiving medication-assisted treatment for addiction. Medication-assisted treatment has proven to be a successful treatment for many patients and involves the supervised use of medications such as methadone, naltrexone or buprenorphine to treat OUD. This prospective research will analyze any common genetic signatures for patients who successfully achieve recovery and those who do not. It also will help determine which drug might be best suited for an individual’s medication-assisted treatment.
“Scientifically and geographically, this team is uniquely well positioned to undertake this effort. This investment in our state’s future speaks to the foresight and vision of the elected leaders of New Jersey and to the innovative scientists and physicians at these Camden institutions,” said Alissa Resch, chief scientific officer at the Coriell Institute. “The knowledge gleaned from this work has the potential to save New Jersey families from the tragedy of opioid use disorder.”
Funded through a three-year grant from the State of New Jersey, the CORI project will position New Jersey at the forefront of the effort to treat opioid use disorder and prevent overdose deaths.