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.

Anti-Leukemia Drug May Also Work Against Ovarian Cancer

An antibody therapy already in clinical trials to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) may also prove effective against ovarian cancer – and likely other cancers as well, report researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in a study published in the Nov. 17 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The findings extend the anti-cancer potential of an experimental monoclonal antibody called cirmtuzumab, developed at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center by Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, and colleagues. Cirmtuzumab is currently in a first-in-human phase 1 clinical trial to assess its safety and efficacy in treating CLL. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Thomas Kipps

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, is professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and deputy director of research at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Kipps directs the multi-institutional, National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored CLL Research Consortium (CRC) and UC San Diego Blood Cancer Research Fund.

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.

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.

Monoclonal Antibody Targets, Kills Leukemia Cells

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center have identified a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets and directly kills chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Thomas KippsThomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, is principal investigator of the study, which was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kipps is professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and deputy director of research at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

Citation for the published study: Zhang S, Wu CCN, Fecteau J-F, Cui B, Chen L, Zhang L, Wu R, Rassenti L, Lao F, Weigand S, Kipps TJ. Targeting chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells with a humanized monoclonal antibody specific for CD44  PNAS 2013; published ahead of print March 25, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1221841110  |  Read the abstract

UCSD-based Cancer Consortium Receives 5-Year, $20 Million Grant Renewal

NCI funding continues work focused on chronic lymphocytic leukemia  

An international consortium of scientists studying chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), based at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been awarded a 5-year, $20 million grant by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The grant is the second renewal of funding for a broad-based effort designed to better understand the pathology of CLL – the most common form of leukemia in the Western world – and develop new drugs and treatments. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Thomas KippsDr. Thomas Kipps heads the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research Consortium (CRC), the eight-member international body receiving the grant. Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, and director of the Clinical Trials Office and deputy director of research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

In the Media: Dr. Januario Castro

Dr. Januario Castro’s investigations of a new immunotherapeutic agent for chronic lymphocytic leukemia are the subject of the story, “Leukaemia Treatment Can Be A Shot Away” on BiomedME.com.

Januario Castro, MD, is Health Sciences Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

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

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Dr. Januario E. Castro Receives R01 Grant Award for Leukemia Research

Dr. Januario E. CastroJanuario E. Castro, M.D., has received a 3-year R01 grant from the Food and Drug Administration to investigate a new immunogene therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Dr. Castro is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Hematology-Oncology and Blood & Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Dr. Castro’s project is “Gene therapy of chronic lymphocytic leukemia using intranodal injection of Ad-ISF35.”

Its goal is to evaluate the clinical and pre-clinical activity of Ad-ISF35, a replication-defective adenovirus vector that encodes a chimeric (human-mouse) CD154 molecule. The Ad-ISF35 is employed to transduce cancer cells and induce anti-tumor responses.

Dr. Castro and his coworkers have conducted a promising preliminary Phase 1 clinical study of Ad-ISF35 in six patients. Recently, they reported some of their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).   Read the PNAS article

The R01 funding comes from the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development and is expected to start in May or June of this year.

The grant will allow Dr. Castro and his team to continue the Phase 1 trial as well as to begin an extension protocol and continue correlative studies to develop this new therapeutic strategy.

The project’s co-principal investigator is Dr. Castro’s mentor, Thomas Kipps, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

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