CIRM Approves New Funding to UC San Diego Researchers Fighting Zika Virus and Cancer

Grants focus on re-purposing drugs to treat Zika infections and using anti-cancer natural killer cells —

The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved a pair of $2 million awards to University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers to advance studies of new treatments for Zika virus infections and the use of stem cell-derived natural killer (NK) cells to target ovarian cancer and other malignancies. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Dan Kaufman and his laboratory received one of the two $2.1 million CIRM grants. The normal immune system contains natural killer (NK) cells; Dr. Kaufman and coworkers are using induced human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to produce NK cells that can target specific tumors, such as ovarian cancer, with high specificity.

Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of Cell Therapy at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

New Drug for Blood Cancers Now in Five Phase II Clinical Trials

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have established the safety and dosing of a new drug for treating blood cancers. The findings are published online July 27 in The Lancet Haematology.

The drug is a small molecule inhibitor that suppresses the activity of a signaling pathway believed to contribute to a variety of blood cancers’ eventual resistance to standard chemotherapy treatments. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego News Center


Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD is the senior author of the article reporting the multicenter study. Dr. Jamieson is an associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine in the School of Medicine.

Read summary of article in The Lancet Haematology

Researchers Find Link Between Inflammation, Tissue Regeneration and Wound Repair Response

Discovery has implications for potential new treatments of some cancers and inflammatory bowel disease —

Almost all injuries, even minor skin scratches, trigger an inflammatory response, which provides protection against invading microbes but also turns on regenerative signals needed for healing and injury repair – a process that is generally understood but remains mysterious in its particulars.

Writing in the February 25 online issue of Nature, an international team of scientists, headed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, report finding new links between inflammation and regeneration: signaling pathways that are activated by a receptor protein called gp130.. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. William SandbornStudy coinvestigators included Division of Gastroenterology division chief William Sandborn, MD, and Inflammatory Disease Center researchers Brigid S. Boland and John T. Chang.

Other Department of Medicine coauthors included Petrus R. de Jong; and Samuel B. Ho, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Section Chief, Gastroenterology, at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Full text of the article (UC San Diego only)

UC San Diego Named Stem Cell “Alpha Clinic”

Designation will help speed development of emerging drugs and therapies —

In a push to further speed clinical development of emerging stem cell therapies, Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego Health System was named today one of three new “alpha clinics” by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s stem cell agency.

The announcement, made at a public meeting in Los Angeles of the CIRM Governing Board, includes an award of $8 million for each of three sites. The other alpha grant recipients are the City of Hope hospital near Los Angeles and University of California, Los Angeles.

“A UC San Diego alpha clinic will provide vital infrastructure for establishing a comprehensive regenerative medicine clinical hub that can support the unusual complexity of first-in-human stem cell-related clinical trials,” said Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, deputy director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center stem cell program and the alpha clinic grant’s principal investigator. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health Newsroom

Novel Drug Targeting Leukemia Cells Enters Clinical Trial

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a phase 1 human clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a new monoclonal antibody for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of blood cancer in adults. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


A team led by Dr. Thomas Kipps developed the new antibody, known as cirmtuzumab or UC-961. The work was conducted and supported by a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine HALT grant to co-principal investigators Dennis Carson, MD, and Catriona Jamieson, PhD, MD.

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhDDennis Carson, MD

L to R: Drs. Kipps, Jamieson and Carson.

Clinical Trial To Test Safety of Stem Cell-Derived Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

UC San Diego is initial site for first-in-human testing of implanted cell therapy

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, in partnership with ViaCyte, Inc., a San Diego-based biotechnology firm specializing in regenerative medicine, have launched the first-ever human Phase I/II clinical trial of a stem cell-derived therapy for patients with Type 1 diabetes. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Principal investigator in the study is Robert R. Henry, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UC San Diego and chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Dianne McKay Receives CIRM Basic Biology Grant

Eight stem cell scientists at the University of California, San Diego have been awarded a total of $8.165 million to fund research tackling significant, unresolved issues in human stem cell biology. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dianne McKay, MDDianne B. McKay, MD, professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension, is one of the eight UC San Diego researchers to receive a Basic Biology V Award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine this week.

McKay is medical director of the Kidney Transplant Program at UC San Diego Health System.

Researchers Block Pathway to Cancer Stem Cell Self-Renewal

NOTCH1 Signaling Promotes T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Initiating Cell Regeneration

Research suggests that patients with leukemia sometimes relapse because standard chemotherapy fails to kill the self-renewing leukemia initiating cells, often referred to as cancer stem cells … A team of researchers – led by Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of Stem Cell Research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center – studied these cells in mouse models that had been transplanted with human leukemia cells. They discovered … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Catriona JamiesonThe senior investigator of the study described in the press release 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.

In the study, the investigators successfully block leukemia stem cell self-renewal. Their work was funded in part by a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Development of Highly Active Anti-Leukemia Stem Cell Therapy (HALT) Leukemia Disease Team Research grant for which Dr. Jamieson serves as co-principal investigator with Dennis A. Carson, MD, former director of the Moores Cancer Center.

The overall goal of the HALT project is to develop six drugs – three monoclonal antibodies and three small molecules – to destroy leukemia stem cells.

Funding also came from the Ratner Family Foundation and the Leichtag Family Foundation. Antibody development was performed by Pfizer.

In her research, Dr. Jamieson focuses on translational studies to develop new treatments for myeloproliferative disorders and leukemia. In 2010, she received a $3.34 million grant from CIRM to support her efforts to develop treatments that reduce the risk of relapse in leukemia.  More about this funded project

Dr. Jamieson was named to the “San Diego’s Top Doctors” list for 2010 and 2011.

More information:

Drs. Carson and Cavenee Win New Planning Grants from CIRM

Dr. Dennis CarsonDepartment of Medicine professors Dennis A. Carson, M.D., left, and Webster Cavenee, Ph.D., below right, are among several UC San Diego researchers to win new grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

Dr. Webster CaveneeThe grants come from a CIRM program that provides seed funding for promising stem cell studies.The goal is to hasten the development of new treatments for specific diseases.

Dr. Carson, Director of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology.  His project will investigate new models for developing treatments that destroy leukemia stem cells.  |  Read the abstract of Dr. Carson’s project.

Dr. Cavenee, Director of the San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. His study will explore the use of neural stem cells to treat brain tumors. Read the abstract of Dr. Cavenee’s project.

CIRM, a continuing partner and major contributor to UC San Diego’s stem cell research programs, announced the awards on June 27.

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