UC San Diego Sparks New Cancer-Focused Startup, Oncternal, with Exclusive Antibody License

Oncternal Therapeutics, a new cancer-focused biotechnology startup, has signed a wide-ranging licensing agreement with UC San Diego to develop and commercialize antibodies and antibody-related binding agents.

Oncternal is based on the pioneering research of UC San Diego scientist and clinician Thomas J. Kipps, Distinguished Professor, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, and deputy director of research operations at the Moores Cancer Center on campus. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


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.

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.