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UC Davis bench-to-bedside research: Promising treatment in clinical trials

occur together and a new class of drugs that addresses both is very attractive."

Cardiologist and cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat of the UC Davis Health System and a longtime collaborator with Hammock, said many diseases tend to occur together in vascular biology. "So, a compound that addresses heart failure, as we have shown, combined with the reduction of blood pressure, inflammation and diabetes is very attractive."

The Phase IIa clinical trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Officials will enroll a total of 150 patients with impaired glucose tolerance, mild obesity and mild to moderate hypertension.

Each patient will receive 28 days of treatment. The AR9281 enzyme inhibitor will be studied for safety, tolerability, reduction of blood pressure and various measures of glucose and lipid metabolism. Results are expected the first quarter of 2010.

The winding, twisting path that took Hammock from his lab, to collaborative research with other UC Davis scientists, to his founding of a $50 million-investment biotechnology company, to clinical trials proved as steep as the mountains he climbs.

Tracing the events that led to the discovery of the enzyme, Hammock recalled doing research at UC Berkeley four decades ago with then-colleague Sarjeet Gill. Gill discovered the enzyme in mammals. Shortly after Hammock found the novel enzyme in insects.

"Both of us have been chipping away at this problem ever since," Hammock said. "By 1975 we were convinced that this was a therapeutic target but no one else was. When we finally found potent inhibitors for the enzyme that worked in whole animals, we had a tool to demonstrate that this was a promising therapeutic target."

Hammock was initially interested in regulating the development of insect larvae. With the discovery of the enzyme inhibitor, however, he switched part of his research from "pest control to pain control."

At the onset,

Contact: Kathy Keatley Garvey
University of California - Davis

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