Renowned scientist and Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantee Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., was invited to present the Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Laboratory Special Seminar at NIEHS on March 28, 2018. Hammock's talk focused on neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage or disease affecting the body's sensory system, and how findings from his lab are being translated into clinical interventions.
"We currently lack medical tools to address neuropathic pain, and there hasn't been a great deal of interest or ability to come up with new drugs among pharmaceutical companies," Hammock said. "This leaves a critical need for options to treat this pain and improve quality of life for patients suffering from a wide variety of common diseases."
Hammock, who has led the University of California (UC) Davis SRP Center since its inception in 1987, is best known for his discovery of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), an enzyme in cells that degrades chemically stable fatty acid epoxides. He described how blocking the function of this enzyme can reduce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which is an underlying mechanism by which many diseases produce inflammation and pain.
According to Hammock, blocking sEH function — and therefore ER stress — may be a way to treat neuropathic and inflammatory pain, as well as other diseases stemming from ER stress, such as asthma, fibrosis, diabetic neuropathy, colitis, and depression.