Tao receives High Impact High Risk Award

Grant to support research into groundbreaking approach for treating chronic pain in oral cancer patients
October 13th, 2022

Dr. Feng Tao

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – commonly known as CPRIT – presented its High Impact High Risk Award last month to Dr. Feng Tao, professor in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M School of Dentistry.

The $237,500 grant, which will support a project titled, “A glia-to-neuron conversion for treating oral cancer pain,” is among 24 new statewide awards that CPRIT recently announced totaling $49 million to support cancer research in Texas.

“Dr. Tao and his group have made important contributions to the understanding of pain pathways,” says Dr. Kathy Svoboda, interim associate dean for research at the School of Dentistry. “This research may lead to a new non opioid approach to decreasing pain from cancer.”

The project aims to develop a novel approach to chronic oral cancer pain using a cell conversion strategy. This strategy converts one type of cell (glia) into another cell type (neurons) to help alleviate the symptoms caused by damaged or loss of neurons. If successful, the therapeutic approach may be applied to the treatment of other cancer pain as well.

CPRIT was created by the Texas Legislature and approved by a statewide vote in 2007 to lead the Lone Star State’s fight against cancer. In 2019, Texas voters again voted overwhelmingly to continue CPRIT with an additional $3 billion for a total $6 billion investment in cancer research and prevention.

To date, the agency has awarded more than $3 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product-development research programs.

— Caleb Vierkant