Study Reveals New Role for Hippo Pathway in Suppressing Cancer Immunity

Previous studies identified the Hippo pathway kinases LATS1/2 as a tumor suppressor, but new research led by University of California San Diego School of Medicine scientists reveals a surprising role for these enzymes in subduing cancer immunity. The findings, published in Cell on December 1, could have a clinical role in improving efficiency of immunotherapy drugs. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dennis Carson, MDThe study coauthors include Dennis A. Carson, MD, member of the UC San Diego Resident Faculty in the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program.

Dr. Carson is Emeritus Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology and former Director of the Moores Cancer Center.

Researchers ID Cancer Gene-Drug Combinations Ripe for Precision Medicine

Yeast, human cells and bioinformatics help develop one-two punch approach to personalized cancer therapy —

In an effort to expand the number of cancer gene mutations that can be specifically targeted with personalized therapies, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center looked for combinations of mutated genes and drugs that together kill cancer cells. Such combinations are expected to kill cancer cells, which have mutations, but not healthy cells, which do not. The study, published July 21 in Molecular Cell, uncovered 172 new combinations that could form the basis for future cancer therapies.

“Oncologists here at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health and elsewhere can often personalize cancer therapy based on an individual patient’s unique cancer mutations,” said senior author Trey Ideker, PhD, … Read the Full Story by Heather Buschman from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Trey Ideker, PhD

Trey Ideker, PhD

Senior author of the study report in Molecular Cell is Trey Ideker, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and Professor of Bioengineering at UC San Diego.

Body’s Own Gene Editing System Generates Leukemia Stem Cells

Inhibiting the editing enzyme may provide a new therapeutic approach for blood cancers —

Cancer stem cells are like zombies — even after a tumor is destroyed, they can keep coming back. These cells have an unlimited capacity to regenerate themselves, making more cancer stem cells and more tumors. Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have now unraveled how pre-leukemic white blood cell precursors become leukemia stem cells. The study, published June 9 in Cell Stem Cell, used human cells to define the RNA editing enzyme ADAR1’s role in leukemia, and find a way to stop it. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD

The senior author of the study report is Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Jamieson is Deputy Director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego Health, Director of the CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Director of Stem Cell Research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

UC San Diego Division of Regenerative Medicine coauthors include Sheldon Morris, MD, MPH, Data Management Lead for the UC San Diego CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic; co-first authors Maria Anna Zipeto and Angela C. Court, Anil Sadarangani, Nathaniel P. Delos Santos, Larisa Balaian, Gabriel Pineda, Cayla N. Mason, Ifat Geron, Daniel J. Goff, Russell Wall, Leslie A. Crews and Qingfei Jiang.

Read the study report (UC San Diego only)

Visit the Jamieson Lab Website

E-Cigarette Vapor Boosts Superbugs and Dampens Immune System

In lab and mouse experiments, exposure promotes bacterial virulence and inflammation, while blocking the body’s ability to fight infection —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System report data suggesting that e-cigarettes are toxic to human airway cells, suppress immune defenses and alter inflammation, while at the same time boosting bacterial virulence. The mouse study is published January 25 by the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

“This study shows that e-cigarette vapor is not benign — at high doses it can directly kill lung cells, which is frightening,” said senior author Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD

Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD

Senior author Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

The article reporting the findings was published first online on January 25, 2016.  Article abstract  |  Full text of article (UC San Diego Only)

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.

UC San Diego Health Researchers Join Pancreatic Cancer “Dream Team”

November 10, 2015

International effort will seek to develop and test new therapies for deadly malignancy —

In an effort to advance research on one of the deadliest forms of cancer, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers Andrew Lowy, MD, and Tannishtha Reya, PhD, have been recruited for their expertise in preclinical modeling, clinical trials and stem cell biology to join a “dream team” of international pancreatic cancer researchers.

The three-year, $12-million effort, sponsored by Stand Up To Cancer, Cancer Research UK and The Lustgarten Foundation, will pursue a three-pronged strategy to better understand and reset so-called “super-enhancers” that may be abnormally active in pancreatic tumors. Super-enhancers are bits of DNA that can cause over-expression of genetic signals, fueling cancer cell growth. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Tannishtha Reya, PhD, is Professor of Pharmacology in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Professor of Medicine in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

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.

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

Nanospheres Safely Deliver High Chemotherapy Doses in Response to Tumor Secretions

Scientists have designed nanoparticles that release drugs in the presence of a class of proteins that enable cancers to metastasize. That is, they have engineered a drug delivery system so that the very enzymes that make cancers dangerous could instead guide their destruction.

“We can start with a small molecule and build that into a nanoscale carrier that can seek out a tumor and deliver a payload of drug,” said Cassandra Callmann, a graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and first author of the report published in the journal Advanced Materials July 14. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

UC San Diego and GSK Collaborate to Eradicate Cancer Stem Cells, Treat Leukemia

First California institution selected to participate in GSK’s bench-to-bedside academia-industry collaboration program —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center are working with GSK on a bench-to-bedside project to treat leukemia and other diseases by eliminating cancer stem cells. The collaboration is part of GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) program, where academic partners become core members of drug-hunting teams. Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine, will lead UC San Diego’s effort in the new DPAc team. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom