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.

In the Media: Dr. Catriona Jamieson

Dr. Catriona Jamieson is one of the researchers interviewed in the CBS Evening News story, “Where America Stands: Stem Cell Research.” The story highlights Dr. Jamieson’s studies of cancer stem cells, their role in the development and recurrence of cancer, and the investigational new drug that targets a cancer stem cell type associated with a form of leukemia.

Dr. Jamieson’s research is also featured in two stories in The Huffington Post:

Catriona Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Director of Stem Cell Research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Also interviewed in the CBS Evening News story is UCSD’s Dr. Larry Goldstein, Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program.

In the Media: Drs. Dennis Carson and Catriona Jamieson

Dr. Dennis Carson and Dr. Catriona Jamieson are featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune story, “Leukemia under the microscope: UCSD cancer center gets $20 million research grant.” Read UCSD’s press release about this major funding award here.

Dennis Carson, MD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology; Director, Moores UCSD Cancer Center; and Chugai Pharmaceutical Chair in Cancer.

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Director of Stem Cell Research at Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Drs. Daniel G. Blanchard and Barbara A. Parker: Profiles from “San Diego’s Top Doctors 2008”

Drs. Daniel G. Blanchard and Barbara A. Parker are among 25 Department of Medicine physicians who were named to the 2008 “San Diego’s Top Doctors” list.Here, they comment on their selection as Top Doctors and on their work at UC San Diego.

Read the full story about the Department of Medicine honorees here.

Daniel G. Blanchard, M.D.
Chief of Clinical Cardiology
UCSD Thornton Hospital

Professor of Clinical Medicine
Division of Cardiology

“It’s a testament to UCSD’s clinical excellence that we have more physicians on the ‘Top Doctors’ list than any other medical center in San Diego,” said Dr. Daniel G. Blanchard, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Chief of Clinical Cardiology at UCSD Thornton Hospital.

Daniel G. Blanchard, M.D.

Dr. Blanchard has been named to San Diego Magazine’s “Top Doctors” list five times in the six-year history of the list.

Of his selection again this year, he said simply, “It’s a real honor to hear that your peers think you’re doing a good job.”

Dr. Blanchard, a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, has been at UCSD since 1981. He graduated from the UCSD School of Medicine, and trained in the Internal Medicine Residency Program and the Cardiology Fellowship Program at UCSD.

He’s now director of the UCSD Cardiology Fellowship Training Program.

“It’s an exciting time in the Division of Cardiology because we’re expanding,” he said. “And, frankly, it’s a pleasure.

“Our main missions are to maintain the excellence of our patient care, increase our ability to see additional patients, and develop the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center.”

The Sulpizio Center, now under construction, is expected to open in 2010.

Cardiology is a popular subspecialty of internal medicine, Dr. Blanchard said. Each year, over 450 physicians apply for the four available training slots in the highly-regarded UCSD Cardiology Fellowship Program.

One reason for the popularity of cardiology among internal medicine trainees, he said, is the availability of new tools and treatments that have been developed in recent years. Today, cardiologists often have good news for their patients even in the face of life-threatening illness.

He gave an example. “In the past,” he said, “a patient with advanced heart failure had only one option: a heart transplant. Now, we have medications and implantable devices that improve the function of a failing heart.

“I often get to tell people, ‘You have a very serious disease, but we have very good treatments for it, and we’re going to get you through this.’”


Barbara A. Parker, M.D.
Medical Director of Oncology Services
Moores UCSD Cancer Center

Professor of Clinical Medicine
Division of Hematology-Oncology

Dr. Barbara A. Parker is Medical Director of Oncology Services at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. Recently, she reflected on her first year in that role.

Barbara A. Parker, M.D.

“We have made progress on many fronts,” she said, crediting the Cancer Center team, the University, the hospital, and the clinical enterprise for their support.Dr. Parker is Professor of Clinical Medicine in the UCSD Division of Hematology-Oncology, where she received her own fellowship training. She accepted the Cancer Center leadership position in late 2007.

In the past year, the Cancer Center has reorganized the faculty into discipline-based teams, made infrastructure investments, grown the clinical practice, increased the volume of patients being treated, and undertaken key recruitments to complement strengths in the faculty.

Dr. Parker sees the Cancer Center as the heart of a multidisciplinary care system that extends through UCSD’s facilities and outward to the greater community.

The Cancer Center and Radiation Oncology are opening a satellite radiation therapy facility in the North County. A new satellite facility is planned for the South Bay as well.

In addition, in response to an increased demand, the Cancer Center is expanding its own radiation oncology facility.

The Cancer Center is also offering seminars in key tumor areas to educate patients about the services and the care available there.

“We’re continuing to try to strengthen our patient-centered care for all disciplines,” Dr. Parker said. “There are many opportunities to develop novel treatments and targeted therapies for our patients.

“Our goal is to provide multidisciplinary care with compassion, new treatment, and new hope for our patients and their families.”

Dr. Barbara Parker Is Named Physician of the Year

Barbara A. Parker, MDFor her outstanding commitment to patient care in the hospital setting and in the community, Dr. Barbara A. Parker has received the 2009 Attending Physician of the Year award from the UC San Diego Medical Center.

Dr. Parker is Medical Director of Oncology Services at Moores UCSD Cancer Center and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.  |  Read the full story from UC San Diego Health Sciences Communications

More Information

Cancer Center Evaluating New Treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Dr. Januario E. CastroMoores UCSD Cancer Center investigators have begun a clinical trial of a new treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The study, a Phase I safety trial, is enrolling selected patients whose leukemia has resisted initial treatment or who have a particular chromosomal abnormality.

The study is headed by Dr. Januario E. Castro and employs a new leukemia vaccine that was developed from the work of Dr. Thomas J. Kipps.

Januario E. Castro, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Thomas J. Kipps, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Deputy Director for Research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Read the full story
from UC San Diego
Health Sciences Communications

More Information:

Dr. Barbara Parker Recognized on 2008 “Women Who Mean Business” List

Barbara A. Parker, MDDr. Barbara A. Parker is among six UCSD School of Medicine faculty named to the San Diego Business Journal’s 15th Annual “Women Who Mean Business” list.

The list recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the San Diego community, business, and government.

Barbara A. Parker, M.D., is Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Medical Director of Oncology Services at Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

She was recognized along with 36 other honorees at the “Women Who Mean Business” awards ceremony October 23.

Read the full story
from UC San Diego
Health Sciences Communications

Read our profile
of Dr. Parker

More Information:

Translational Research at UCSD: Dr. Catriona Jamieson Talks about a New Kind of Teamwork

Dr. Catriona JamiesonJust upstairs from her patient clinic at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, physician-scientist Dr. Catriona Jamieson works to identify and test new treatments in her laboratory.

The closeness of clinic and laboratory is intentional. The Moores UCSD Cancer Center is designed to support translational researchers like Dr. Jamieson, whose work is inspired and directed by her patients’ needs.

“Our patients are the drivers for our research,” she says. “In my clinic, I get to see how courageous my patients are and what an uphill battle it is.”

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director for Stem Cell Research at the Cancer Center. She is a respected researcher and a vibrant advocate for her patients’ quality of life.

“My mandate is to find
more selective,
less toxic therapies.”

In a recent interview, she talked about how the spirit of collaboration – with a focus on the patient – is transforming academic and pharmaceutical medicine here at UCSD.

“The goal is to empower patients”

Dr. Jamieson specializes in myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) and leukemia. Myeloproliferative disorders are a family of uncommon but not rare degenerative disorders in which the body overproduces blood cells.

Myeloproliferative disorders can cause many forms of blood clotting including heart attack, stroke, deep venous thrombosis, and pulmonary emboli and can develop into acute myelogenous leukemia.

Although some effective treatments are available, they are laden with serious side effects. In addition, individuals can become resistant to the treatments.

Dr. Jamieson studies the mutant stem cells and progenitor cells in myeloproliferative disorders. These cells can give rise to cancer stem cells.Cancer stem cells may lie low to evade chemotherapy and then activate again later, causing disease progression and resistance to treatment.

“We want
to change cancer…
and take away
the fear.”

“My mandate,” she says, “is to find more selective, less toxic therapies.“The goal is to empower patients to define their lives by what they want, not by what they’ve been diagnosed with.”

The evolution of new hope

In the past year, Dr. Jamieson’s stem-cell research studies have taken a great leap: from identifying a promising treatment in the laboratory to opening the first clinical trial in humans.

The clinical trial is the fruit of teamwork that has brought together her discoveries in myeloproliferative disorders and a local pharmaceutical company’s drug development track.

In both her laboratory work and the clinical trial, Dr. Jamieson has collaborated with TargeGen, a privately-held San Diego pharmaceutical company, and stem-cell researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University.

Myeloproliferative disorders come from a genetic mutation in the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) pathway of blood cell production. In 2006, Dr. Jamieson and her colleagues discovered exactly where this mutation first starts skewing the blood cell manufacturing process – in the hematopoietic stem cells.

The report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This discovery identified JAK2 as a target for possible new stem-cell therapies for myeloproliferative disorders. At the same time, TargeGen had a JAK2 inhibitor called TG101348 in drug development.

Read the report
in the Proceedings
of the National Academy
of Sciences

(free full text)

Ida Deichaite, Ph.D., Director, Office of Industry Relations for the Cancer Center, and John Hood, Ph.D., Director of Research at TargeGen, worked with Dr. Jamieson to launch a collaborative research project.TargeGen made the inhibitor available to Dr. Jamieson and her colleagues, who tested it in a laboratory model of a myeloproliferative disorder known as polycythemia vera (PV).

The results indicated that TG101348 was specifically effective, and not toxic, in its action against polycythemia vera. Corroborating data came from an independent Harvard group of researchers led by D. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D.

Drs. Jamieson and Gilliland, who agreed to co-submit their reports, published their data side by side in the journal Cancer Cell in April 2008.

Read the abstract
of the report
in Cancer Cell

Clinical trial now underway

The first clinical study of TG101348 opened at UCSD and five other centers early this year. The study, an FDA Phase I/II trial, is testing the compound for its safety and efficacy in individuals who have myeloproliferative disorders. Patients from UCSD are now enrolled.

The hope is that TG101348 will halt or even reverse the disease process.

“If we suppress the mutant gene,” Dr. Jamieson says, “We can get people back into feeling like they don’t have the disease. We try to go back to early phases of the disease and reverse the effects.”

If the early results bear out, the treatment will be available as a pill. The study may also lead to more broadly useful therapies.

“It’s a testament to teamwork,” she says.

“Like soccer — we all
play our positions,
and pass the ball
back and forth.”

Funding for the TG101348 studies came from a variety of public and private sources, including the Cancer Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), and a private donor who is himself affected by a myeloproliferative disorder.

Dr. Jamieson’s patients supported the study as well.

“They stepped up,” she says. “They offered to donate blood and bone marrow samples.”

Dr. Jamieson has just received a three-year, $3 million New Faculty II Grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for her studies of leukemic transformation in myeloproliferative disorders.

Read the
public abstract
for Dr. Jamieson’s
CIRM research
project

Began stem cell research with Dr. Irving L. Weissman at Stanford

Dr. Jamieson earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1992. Inspired to be a scientist, she had a passion for patient care as well; she earned her M.D. at the University of British Columbia in 1995.

She went on to complete her medical internship and residency training there.

After beginning a fellowship in bone marrow transplant at the Vancouver General Hospital/British Columbia Cancer Agency, she transferred to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California in 1999. There, she completed her bone marrow transplant fellowship and a fellowship in hematology.

Dr. Jamieson started her stem cell research at Stanford in 2001, when she joined the laboratory of stem cell research pioneer Irving L. Weissman, M.D.

Dr. Weissman is Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford. He and his group illuminated the stem-cell pathway that produces blood cells.

In Dr. Weissman’s laboratory, Dr. Jamieson and her research team were the first to identify the cancer stem cell in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). They published their results in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004.

Read the
New England Journal
of Medicine
article
(free full text)

In 2003, Dr. Jamieson became an instructor in the Division of Hematology at Stanford.She joined the UCSD faculty as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology in 2005, and became Director of the Cancer Center’s Stem Cell Research Program in 2006.

“An ideal environment” for translational research

With laboratories, clinics, and core facilities sharing a single building, the Cancer Center is an ideal translational research environment, Dr. Jamieson says.

Cancer Center Director Dennis A. Carson “always approaches things as if he were the patient,” she says.

“He had a vision that translational studies could be done here very well and in an innovative way.”

“Here, the investment is in people.”

She credits Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, with ensuring that researchers have the protected time and the startup funding for their research.

“Here, the investment is in people,” she says. “Not only in funding, but also in being there for you.”

Since she joined UCSD in 2005, Dr. Jamieson has assembled a collaborative group to share ideas and resources in stem cell research. Called the La Jolla Cancer Stem Cell Working Group, it includes stem cell biologists from a number of major research institutions including UCSD, Salk, Burnham Institute, Scripps Research Institute.

“Like soccer,” she says. “We all play our positions, and pass the ball back and forth.”

Dr. Jamieson reflects upon the meaning of the name “La Jolla” – “the jewel.”

“The jewel is the talent here,” she says. “To have a team that is responsible, reliable, and enthusiastic — that is everything.”

And the goal is to meet the patients’ needs.

“We want to change cancer,” she says, “so that it can be treated like a chronic disease — and take away the fear.”

More Information:

Dr. Barbara A. Parker Is Named Medical Director of UC San Diego Oncology Services

Barbara A. Parker, MDBarbara A. Parker, MD, is the new Medical Director of Oncology Services at Moores UCSD Cancer Center and UC San Diego Medical Center.

A longtime UCSD physician, researcher, and administrator, Dr. Parker was pleased to be asked to step into this challenging and influential role.

Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

More Information