Protein-Protein Interaction Activates and Fuels Leukemia Cell Growth

December 21, 2015

Findings also show how an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment inhibits growth and spread of cancer —

Building upon previous research, scientists at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer report that a protein called Wnt5a acts on a pair of tumor-surface proteins, called ROR1 and ROR2, to accelerate the proliferation and spread of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells, the most common form of blood cancer in adults.

They note, however, that these effects of Wnt5a were blocked by a humanized monoclonal antibody specific for ROR1, called cirmtuzumab (or UC-961), which inhibited the growth and spread of CLL cells in both cell lines and mouse models of leukemia. The findings are published in the December 21, 2015 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Thomas Kipps

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, senior author of the study report, is Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research and deputy director for research at Moores Cancer Center. He is Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Hematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Read the study report in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (full text, UC San Diego only). J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI83535.

Cancer-associated Mutations are Common in Patients with Unexplained Low Blood Counts

November 4, 2015

Researchers use genetic tools to propose a new diagnostic category —

Patients with unexplained low blood counts and abnormally mutated cells who do not fit the diagnostic criteria for recognized blood cancers should be described as having clonal cytopenias of undetermined significance (CCUS), suggest University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers in a recent paper published in the journal Blood. The researchers found the condition surprisingly common in older patients with low blood counts. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Rafael Bejar

Dr. Rafael Bejar

The senior author of the study is Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Read Article Abstract

Dr. Bejar was one of 41 UC San Diego Health physicians named on the list of San Diego’s Top Doctors for 2015. The annual list is compiled by the San Diego County Medical Society and San Diego Magazine.

Spotting the Earliest Signs of Type 1 Diabetic Kidney Disease

JDRF network grant to fund study to find new types of diagnostic markers —

In an effort to pinpoint the earliest signs of diabetic kidney disease, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine are leading a multi-institutional international effort dedicated to finding a new breed of disease indicators.

The study, funded by a $2.5 million JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) grant, will tap the potential of three emerging “omics” sciences to discover new ways to determine which patients are most likely to develop diabetic kidney disease. Samples from more than 2,000 type 1 diabetes patients, collected over a period of years by several medical centers around the world, will be used in the analyses. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHAPrincipal investigator of the study is Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology. He directs the Center for Renal Translational Medicine and the Institute of Metabolomic Medicine in UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Plasmapheresis for Medical Disorders: Dr. Amber Paratore Sanchez Speaking at This Week’s Grand Rounds

Dr. Amber SanchezDr. Amber Sanchez will speak on plasmapheresis for medical disorders at the October 22 session of Medicine Grand Rounds.

A former UC San Diego chief medical resident (2006-2007) who is now on the internal medicine faculty, Amber Paratore Sanchez, MD, is Health Sciences assistant clinical professor in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension.

She is associate medical director of the Therapeutic Apheresis Program at UC San Diego Health System.

See her clinical profile

Lower Vitamin D Level in Blood Linked to Higher Premature Death Rate

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that persons with lower blood levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely as people with higher blood levels of vitamin D. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Split Decision: Stem Cell Signal Linked With Cancer Growth

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a protein critical to hematopoietic stem cell function and blood formation. The finding has potential as a new target for treating leukemia because cancer stem cells rely upon the same protein to regulate and sustain their growth. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Gary HardimanGary Hardiman, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, is an investigator on the study.

Citation for the study report in Nature Genetics: Bryan Zimdahl, Takahiro Ito, Allen Blevins, Jeevisha Bajaj, Takaaki Konuma, Joi Weeks, Claire S Koechlein, Hyog Young Kwon, Omead Arami, David Rizzieri, H Elizabeth Broome, Charles Chuah, Vivian G Oehler, Roman Sasik, Gary Hardiman & Tannishtha Reya. Nature Medicine advance online publication, 02 February 2014 (doi:10.1038/ng.2889). Summary | Full text (UCSD only)

John Adamson Honored with American Society of Hematology Mentor Award for Basic Science

Dr.  John AdamsonThis week at its annual meeting in New Orleans, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) is presenting Dr. John W. Adamson with its 2013 Mentor Award for Basic Science.

John W. Adamson, MD, is clinical professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and associate director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The ASH mentoring awards recognize hematologists who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees’ careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology.

The award cites Adamson for his passion for teaching the interrelationship between clinical medicine and biomedical science and the importance of granting early-career hematologists with protected time to develop their scientific skills.

Dr. Adamson has been particularly exceptional at forging bonds among early-career investigators with similar interests and has been an advocate for the advancement of women in hematology.

Several of his mentees have become leading experts in the field, and many have assumed leadership roles in the greater hematology research community.

Adamson is a past president of the American Society of Hematology and was editor of its official journal, Blood, from 1983 to 1987.

More Information:

Read the American Society of Hematology press release

UC San Diego Researcher Receives $6.25 Million Grant

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has awarded Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with a 5-year, $6.25 million Specialized Center of Research program grant to support research on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adult leukemia in the United States. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Thomas Kipps

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, is the Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center deputy director for research.

See other UC San Diego news stories about Dr. Kipps and his work.

UC Medical Campus Consortium Named Designated Center to Translate Innovations into Improved Health

A consortium of the five University of California medical campuses at UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Francisco has been designated a Center for Accelerated Innovations by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The designation, among the first of its kind from NHLBI, recognizes the University of California’s potential to translate its leading-edge discoveries into innovative products that benefit patients. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Gary FiresteinGary S. Firestein, MD, chair of the UC BRAID consortium that will oversee the new UC Center for Accelerated Innovations, is dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego Health Sciences

He led UC San Diego’s successful effort to win a Clinical and Translational Science Award in 2010 and is the founding director of the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute.

Firestein is professor of medicine and former chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology at UC San Diego. He served as division chief from 1998 until he stepped down in 2010 to devote full time to his activities as dean of translational medicine.

In 2011, philanthropists Lisa and Steve Altman made a major gift to the planned Clinical and Translational Research building on the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego Health System. Construction started in early 2013 and the building, named the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, is scheduled to open in 2016.

UC San Diego Health System Video: The Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute

More Information:

Enzyme Accelerates Malignant Stem Cell Cloning in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

An international team, headed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has identified a key enzyme in the reprogramming process that promotes malignant stem cell cloning and the growth of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the blood and marrow that experts say is increasing in prevalence. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhDPrincipal investigator of the study is Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director of stem cell research at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Jamieson is on the steering committee for the Moores Cancer Center’s My Answer to Cancer initiative for personalized cancer therapy. She is a member of the faculty in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Department of Medicine faculty coauthor Sheldon R. Morris, MD, MPH, an investigator at the UCSD Antiviral Research Center,is health sciences assistant clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Citation for the report in PNAS: Jiang Q, Crews LA, Barrett CL, Chun H-J, Court AC, Isquith JM, Zipeto MA, Goff DJ, Minden M, Sadarangani A, Rusert JM, Dao K-HT, Morris SR, Goldstein LSB, Marra MA, Kelly A. Frazer KA, Jamieson C.H.M. ADAR1 promotes malignant progenitor reprogramming in chronic myeloid leukemia. PNAS 2012; published ahead of print December 28, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1213021110

Read the study report (free full text)

More about Dr. Jamieson and her work: