Posts Tagged: Bruce Hammock
Pest management. Pain management.
Early in his career, entomologist Bruce Hammock, now a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis and a newly selected fellow of the Entomological Society of America, probed regulating the development of insect larvae.
Now his interests swing toward pain management, including inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
His is truly a case of "from the bench to the bedside."
Today two UC Davis labs--including Hammock's--and a lab from Peking University, China published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that is sure to offer hope down the road for those suffering from arthritis pain.
The scientists found a novel mechanism as to why the long-term, high-dosage use of the well-known arthritis pain medication, Vioxx, led to heart attacks and strokes. Their groundbreaking research, done with rodents, may pave the way for a safer drug for millions of arthritis patients who suffer acute and chronic pain.
“This is a major breakthrough that can lead to a better medication for people suffering from acute pain,” said Hammock, who has a joint appointment at the UC Davis Cancer Center.
The Hammock lab and two others labs--the lab of cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and physiologist Yi Zhu, Peking University--used metabolomic profiling to analyze murine (rodent) plasma. They discovered that Vioxx causes a dramatic increase in a regulatory lipid that could be a major contributor to the heart attacks and strokes associated with high levels of the drug and other selective COX-2 inhibitors, known as “coxibs.”
“Our metabolomics study discovered that 20-hydroxyeicosatetrasanoic acid, also known as 20-HETE, contributes to the Vioxx-mediated cardiovascular events,” said UC Davis bioanalytical chemist Jun-Yan Liu, the senior author of the paper and a five-year member of the Bruce Hammock laboratory.
Millions of arthritis patients took Vioxx before its withdrawal from the global market in 2004. Vioxx, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and coxib for acute and chronic pain, particularly for arthritis and osteoarthritis, was on the market for five years. Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew it in September 2004 due to concerns about the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The chronic administration of high levels of selective COX-2 inhibitors, particularly rofecoxib, and valdecoxib, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, Liu said.
Urologist Ralph devere White, professor of urology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Cancer Center, described the research as “extremely exciting.”
“Vioxx and other drugs in this class were looked on as extremely promising in moderation,” devere White said. “The fact that the Hammock lab discovered why the drug could lead to heart attacks and strokes and is able to quantify the deleterious facts is extremely exciting. I hope that patients can safely use this drug in the future or block the deleterious effects so it will have all of the benefits and none of the adverse side effects.”
Nationally, some 46 million individuals suffer from arthritis. “And almost one million patients are admitted to hospitals every year because of their arthritis,” Hammock said. “They do need effective and safer drugs to relieve their pain.”
This research (see the UC Davis Department of Entomology website) will undoubtedly open up new strategies to develop safer coxibs.
The Entomological Society of America this morning announced the 2010 Fellows. Each year the governing board can elect up to 10 members as Fellows of the 6000-member society.
The highly prestigious honor acknowledges outstanding contributions in one or more of the following: research, teaching, extension, or administration.
This year...drum roll...three UC professors were among the 10 selected: Bruce Hammock and Thomas Scott of UC Davis and Thomas Miller of UC Riverside.
They will be inducted as Fellows at the ESA’s annual meeting, to be held Dec. 12-15 in San Diego.
Hammock (top photo), a distinguished professor of entomology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 1980 and holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Cancer Research Center.
Hammock and his laboratory are exploiting inhibitors of epoxide hydrolases as drugs to treat diabetes, inflammation, ischemia, and cardiovascular disease. Compounds from the UC Davis laboratory are in human trials.
Diabetes, arthritis and heart patients are closely following his research.
Thomas Scott (middle photo) joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology Department in 1996 and directs the UC Davis Mosquito Research Laboratory. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Scott is a past president of the Society for Vector Ecology and co-founder of the Center for Vector-Borne Research.
Scott’s research focuses on mosquito ecology, evolution of mosquito-virus interactions, epidemiology of mosquito-borne disease, and evaluation of novel products and strategies for mosquito control and disease prevention.
He's a noted authority on the mosquito-borne disease, dengue.
Thomas Miller (lower photo) received his doctorate in entomology from UC Riverside in 1967. His research has included the structure and function of the insect circulatory system; mode of action of insecticides; insect neuromuscular physiology; physiology, toxicology and behavior of pink bollworm in cotton fields; transgenic insects; and applied symbiosis for crop protection and biopesticides for crop protection.
Current projects include control of bush cricket pests of oil palm trees in Papua New Guinea, oversight of field trials of transgenic grapevines with resistance to Pierce's disease, biotechnology for control of desert locust, and regulatory control of insect transgenic technologies.
These three entomologists have published widely--Hammock alone has 763 peer-reviewed publications.
Indeed, their accomplishments could fill several books.
Thomas Scott in Kenya
Ants, bees, flies and other insects--and people--ought to scatter from the Briggs Hall lawn on the UC Davis campus, on Friday afternoon, July 16.
That's the date of the eighth annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle, aka Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs.
Entomologists and other scientists, along with other faculty, staff, spouses and children, will engage in some summer fun.
Bruce Hammock, a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology who holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center, launched the water battle back in 2003 as a way to develop camaraderie and lessen the scorching summer heat.
At 1:30 p.m. participants will fill some 2200 water balloons in 82 Briggs, and at 3:45 p.m., they'll head to the north end of the Briggs Hall lawn to do battle.
Last year the eager warriors tossed all the balloons in 15 minutes--15 minutes of aim.
When the balloons are gone, any water remaining in the tubs and other containers is put to good use over an unsuspecting head.
Lately Hammock has been in the news for several reasons:
- He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, which recently received a $13.2 million, five-year grant renewal to study the health effects of hazardous chemicals
- His entomological studies on "bugs" have led to new hope for diabetes and heart patients. (See latest story on diabetes)
- He recently presented a public lecture on “The Development and Potential of Genetically Engineered Viruses for Insect Control in Agriculture" as part of the COSMOS Distinguished Lecture Series on the UC Davis campus. This is the four-week California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science summer residential program for high achieving math and science students, grades 9 through 12.
Hammock, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1999, also directs the National Institutes of Health Training Program in Biotechnology and the NEIHS Combined Analytical Program.
He's considered a talented scientist, a dedicated mentor, a superb teacher, and...(drum roll) a water warrior extraordinaire.
As one former member of the lab said: "Nobody but nobody can beat Bruce at water balloons."
The economy is tanked. The cuts keep coming. The smiles fade.
Friday afternoon, July 17 is the seventh annual Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs.
Bruce? That would be Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and a longtime member of the National Academy of Sciences. He and fellow researchers, faculty, staff and students will leave their offices and labs at 1:30 p.m. to fill up 2500 water balloons, and then exactly at 3:45 they will...ahem... throw them at each other on the north lawn of Briggs Hall.
Fact is, they work hard and they play hard. The annual balloon battle is how they spell R-E-L-I-E-F.
Hammock's research and daily schedule would overwhelm most scientists. He holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center. He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Program in Biotechnology and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory. His discovery of an enzyme inhibitor that holds promise to control human diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and cystic fibrosis) is now a first-in-class drug in human clinical trials.
But this noted entomologist who switched his research from pest control to human pain control, also excels at water balloon battles--so much so that nobody, but nobody can beat Bruce Hammock.
Still, Hammock lab researcher Christophe Morisseau, coordinator of the 2009 and 2008 battles, tries. Morisseau's aim is good, but Hammock's feet are faster.
The best part is when the water warriors deplete their water supply and chase each other with tubs and buckets of water.
Just water--nothing else--is tossed.
Oh, but what if...
Aftter the 2006 battle, we asked Jason Graham, a forensic entomology researcher who works with blow flies and maggots, if he planned to compete the following year. "I'd like to participate next year," he said, "but I don’t think they’d appreciate what we have to throw.”
It's a sense of urgency.
When UC Davis researchers Bruce Hammock and Nipavan Chiamvimonvat and their team discovered that a prototype drug reduces heart enlargement--one of the most common causes of heart failure--and published their work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the response was overwhelming.
Electronic and print news media throughout the world picked it up. So did bloggers and other social networkers. But the most heartwarming responses came from heart patients.
One person e-mailed Hammock: "I've been following your research in cardiac hypertrophy for sometime and we really thank you." He said his family has a history of cardiac hypertrophy and wants to know more about the developments.
And to think this research sprang from studies on insect pest control in the Hammock lab.
The research in the Chiamvimonvat and Hammock laboratories showed that the new class of drugs reduces heart swelling in rat models with heart failure.
“This holds promise to treat heart failure and other cardiovascular as well as kidney problems,” said nephrology professor Robert Weiss, Department of Internal Medicine.
Similar compounds are now in clinical trials.
"It certainly gives a feeling of urgency," agreed Hammock.