Endodontics Receives $5.1M in New Grant Funding
October 11, 2019
Over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and still, an all too common treatment is opioid medication. Fortunately, opioid addiction has a been spotlighted and researchers are racing to discover alternative treatments and therapies for pain managment.
Drs. Armen Akopian and Shivani Ruparel, both Endodontic faculty in the School of Dentistry, have teamed up with Dr. Alexei Tumanov, Associate Professor in the Long School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, to validate a novel “master switch” target that will effectively and without side-effects treat many orofacial pain conditions, including temporomandibular disorders (i.e. temporomandibular joint) and painful oral cancer.
This multidisciplinary team was awarded $3.2M by the Healing to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to accelerate pain research. The HEAL Initiative promotes the discovery and validation of novel therapeutic treatments that support the development of alternative pain management medications and devices, with minimal side-effects and little to no addition liability.
Another grant in the amount of $1.9M was awarded to Principle Investigator, Dr. Ken Hargreaves, Professor and Chair for the Department of Endodontics, to study the role of dietary fats on pain. Dr. Hargreaves noted that “although medical recommendations regarding diet focus on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many autoimmune diseases, this has not been the case for most pain disorders.”
Dr. Hargreaves will specifically focus on how pain receptors might be affected by a diet elevated in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). If there is a positive correlation between the increased dietary omega-6 PUFAs and pain, it may lead to dietary recommendations to reduce pain without relying on opiods.
Congratulations to these investigators and their departments!