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Health

Boston-based startup to test wastewater for drug, opioid use

Renatta Signorini
| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 8:00 a.m.
OxyContin, an opioid painkiller.
OxyContin, an opioid painkiller.

A Boston-based startup company that is focused on extracting opioid consumption data from sewage won $10,000 on Sunday during a mayors' conference.

Biobot Analytics won the money after a pitch competition judged by mayors from around the country at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, reported Governing.com. Cities can use Biobot's technology to examine wastewater to estimate levels of drug use in specific areas, according to a company profile by Boston Magazine .

"We are creating a new layer of human health data intelligence in our cities and, to start, we're focusing on the biggest public health crisis in the United States," said Newsha Ghaeli, co-founder and president, during her pitch.In addition to the money, Biobot Analytics won the opportunity to present during the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting.

'We measure the concentration of opioids and other drugs in sewage in order to estimate consumption in neighborhoods," Ghaeli said during the pitch.

Cambridge, Mass. and Cary, N.C. have agreed to use the technology, both Governing.com and Boston Magazine reported. Between 2000 and 2016, 600,000 people across the country have died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioids, such as prescription pain pills and heroin, are driving the epidemic.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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