Unexpected Activity of Two Enzymes Helps Explain Why Liver Cancer Drugs Fail

Overturning previous assumptions, study also provides new, more realistic model for liver cancer research and drug development —

Some cancers are caused by loss of enzymes that should keep cell growth in check. On the flip side, some are caused by over-activation of enzymes that enhance cell growth. Yet drugs that inhibit the overactive enzymes have failed to work against liver cancer. In mouse models, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a potential reason — counterintuitively, lack of both types of these enzymes can lead to liver disease and cancer. In human liver tumor samples, they also found that deficiencies in these two enzymes, called Shp2 and Pten, are associated with poor prognosis.

The study, published December 13 by Cell Reports, provides a new understanding of how liver cancer develops, a new therapeutic approach and new mouse model for studying the disease. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MD

Rohit Loomba, MD

The study team includes Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, Director of the NAFLD Research Center and Director of Hepatology in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. Dr. Loomba is Professor of Medicine (with tenure) and Vice Chief, Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Loomba is also Adjunct Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.

Drs. John Chang, William Sandborn and Kim Barrett Honored by American Gastroenterological Association at DDW 2016

Drs. John T. Chang, William J. Sandborn and Kim E. Barrett have received high honors at Digestive Diseases Week® 2016, the annual joint meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association and other gastroenterology and hepatology societies.

John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, was honored with the AGA Young Investigator Award in Basic Science.  |  Read AGA Press Release

The award recognizes Dr. Chang for his originality and innovative insight into basic mechanisms underlying lymphocyte fate specification in systemic and mucosal immune responses.

Dr. Chang is currently exploring whether pharmacologic modulation of proteasome activity might be a useful strategy for improving memory cell generation, highly relevant for mucosal vaccine development.  |  Visit the Chang Laboratory

Dr. William Sandborn

William J. Sandborn, MD

William J. Sandborn, MD, AGAF, received the 2016 AGA Institute Council Immunology, Microbiology & Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IMIBD) Section Research Mentor Award.

Dr. Sandborn is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego.

The AGA Institute Council Intestinal Disorders Section Research Mentor Award went to Kim E. Barrett, PhD, AGAF, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Dean of Graduate Studies at UC San Diego.

Kim E. Barrett, PhD

Kim E. Barrett, PhD

The AGA gave its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Award, to C. Richard Boland, MD, AGAF, a past leader of the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Boland was Chief of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego from 1995 to 2003.  |  Read the AGA Press Release

Dr. Boland, now at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX, received the award for his lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology and the AGA.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT) are other sponsoring societies in DDW.

Two Research Award-Winning Medical Residents to Present Grand Rounds This Week

Drs. Trisha Sharma and Ahnika Kline, two internal medicine residents who won research awards for their posters at this year’s UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Program Research Symposium, will present their work at Medicine Grand Rounds on June 1.

Trisha Sharma, MD

R2 Trisha Sharma, MD, left, will present on “Gastrointestinal Manifestations of Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder.”

Ahnika Kline, MD, PhDDr. Sharma received her MD degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

R3 Ahnika Kline, MD, PhD, right, will present “Quality Improvement in Internal Medicine: A Test Case of Hepatitis C.” In 2016-2017, Dr. Kline will be VA Chief Resident in Quality and Safety. She received her MD degree from UC San Francisco.

Diabetes Drug Found No Better Than Placebo at Treating NAFLD

But randomized, double-blind clinical trial suggests better way to conduct future trials —

A diabetes medication described in some studies as an effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) works no better than a placebo, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, after conducting the first randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial of sitagliptin, an oral antihyperglycemic marketed by Merck & Co. under the name Januvia.

Writing in the Journal of Hepatology, a multidisciplinary team headed by study senior author Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the NAFLD Translational Research Unit at UC San Diego School of Medicine … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Short Overnight Fasting Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Researchers suggest increasing duration of nightly fasting may improve prognosis —

In patients with breast cancer, a short overnight fast of less than 13 hours was associated with a statistically significant, 36 percent higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a non-significant, 21 percent higher probability of death from the disease compared to patients who fasted 13 or more hours per night, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers.

The study, publishing online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology on March 31 … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Remote Italian Village Could Harbor Secrets of Healthy Aging

Researchers will examine 300 Italian residents, all over 100 years old —

The average life expectancy in the United States is approximately 78 years old. Americans live longer, with better diets and improved health care, than ever before, but only 0.02 percent will hit the century mark.

To understand how people can live longer throughout the world, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have teamed up with colleagues at University of Rome La Sapienza to study a group of 300 citizens, all over 100 years old, living in a remote Italian village nestled between the ocean and mountains on the country’s coast.

“We are the first group of researchers to be given permission to study this population in Acciaroli, Italy,” said Alan Maisel, MD … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Altman Clinical and Translational Research Building Makes Its Debut

New structure will be campus hub for advancing basic science to clinical applications —

Rising above Interstate 5 on the east campus of UC San Diego, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building (ACTRI) officially opened its doors Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony under blue skies.

The new seven-story building of steel, glass and grooved concrete is home to the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) at UC San Diego, established in 2010 as part of a national consortium of 60 medical research institutions created to energize bench-to-bedside efforts. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building Opens March 4

Stunning structure will house array of scientists and centers dedicated to speeding basic research into new treatments and therapies —

Rising above Interstate 5 on the east campus of University of California, San Diego, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building (ACTRI), a five-sided polygon of glass, steel and grooved concrete, officially opens its doors March 4 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“The building is an architectural marvel, but more important is what it represents and the work that will go on inside,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Gary Firestein

Dr. Gary Firestein

The director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute at UC San Diego is Gary S. Firestein, MD, Professor of Medicine and Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine at UC San Diego.

CTRI opened in 2010 as a part of the national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium through a five-year, $37.2 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the National Institutes of Health. CTRI received a $52 million renewal grant last year.

More about the activities of the CTRI

 

Dr. Bernd Schnabl and Coworkers Find Another Way Alcohol Damages the Liver

Natural gut antibiotics diminished by alcohol leave mice more prone to bacterial growth in the liver, exacerbating alcohol-induced liver disease —

Alcohol itself can directly damage liver cells. Now researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report evidence that alcohol is also harmful to the liver for a second reason — it allows gut bacteria to migrate to the liver, promoting alcohol-induced liver disease. The study, conducted in mice and in laboratory samples, is published February 10 in Cell Host & Microbe.

“Alcohol appears to impair the body’s ability to keep microbes in check,” said senior author Bernd Schnabl, MD, associate professor of gastroenterology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


BBernd Schnabl, MDernd Schnabl, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology faculty members Samuel B. Ho, MD, Professor of Medicine; and David A. Brenner, MD, Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences, Dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine and Professor of Medicine are coauthors of the study report.

Read the Article Abstract

Dr. Schnabl’s Laboratory Website

Drs. Shu Chien, Shaochen Chen Report Creation of in Vitro Liver Tissue Model Using Novel Bioprinting Technology

A team led by engineers at the University of California, San Diego has 3D-printed a tissue that closely mimics the human liver’s sophisticated structure and function. The new model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling. The work was published the week of Feb. 8 in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Shu Chien, MD, PhD

Shu Chien, MD, PhD. Photo courtesy of Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego.

Shu Chien, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the study report in PNAS, is founding chair of the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

In the Department of Medicine, he is Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Physiology.

Dr. Chien is a world-renowned researcher and inventor who has conducted pioneering investigations in atherosclerosis and hypertension. His work has brought about significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Read the abstract of the PNAS report

Read more about the biofabrication technology used to create the liver model