Aether Therapeutics, an Austin-based, innovative new biotech company developing a first-in-
class preventative treatment for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, was awarded a Fast-Track
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse
(NIDA). The total SBIR award proceeds in two phases and provides up to $1.7 Million to
support the development of its lead compound, 6BMX, with the ultimate goal of rapidly
finishing late pre-clinical studies to advance and support an Investigation New Drug Application.
6BMX has been validated in rodent models, as well as non-human primates, and has
demonstrated its preferentially entry into the fetal brain to protect the developing fetus from
the adverse effects of opioid exposure. Simultaneously, 6BMX does not affect the mother, as it
is peripherally circulated within the mother. This approach has the potential not only to
suppress NAS symptoms after birth, but also to prevent developmental abnormalities and
premature birth as a result of opioid exposure.
Every 25 minutes a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal, often prematurely with
developmental problems and potential long-term adverse effects including cognitive
impairment. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a significant problem affecting infants
born to mothers suffering from opioid addiction which has skyrocketed in recent years as a
result of the opioid epidemic plaguing this country. Since 2000, the number of babies affected
by NAS has increased nearly 5-fold.
6BMX is a first-in-class treatment strategy and the first drug of its kind to focus on treatment
and prevention of NAS during the pregnancy and has the additional benefit of working with
existing treatment practices of maintenance therapy.