The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recently awarded Drs. Seiichi Yamano and Brian Schmidt a $1.2M grant to perform tests on the effectiveness and safety of their non-viral gene delivery method catering for oral cancer patients. Brian L. Schmidt, Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at New York University, mentions that oral cancer patients more often lead dismal lives. Due to the severe pain they experience, the patients find it difficult to eat, drink or talk. Doctors are therefore left with no other choice but to prescribe opioid induced medications, which in turn generate dire side effects further affecting these patients.
Seiichi Yamano, Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at NY University Dentistry, notes that gene therapy is emerging as a capable alternative to opioid use in the cancer pain treatment. The approach intends to negate oral cancer pain via the reversal of epigenetic changes, to in turn disrupt nociceptive signaling with less off-target impacts.