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.

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.

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.

A Cancer Marker and Treatment in One?

UC San Diego Researchers Find Promise in Non-Human Sialic Acid Antibodies

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say antibodies to a non-human sugar molecule commonly found in people may be useful as a future biomarker for predicting cancer risk, for diagnosing cancer cases early and, in sufficient concentration, used as a treatment for suppressing tumor growth…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Richard Schwab and Dr. Ajit Varki (pictured above left), led the study, which was a multicenter collaboration that included the departments of Medicine and of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, and the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at UC San Diego.

Richard Schwab, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Ajit Varki, MD, is Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Co-Director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and Co-Director of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny. Read the abstract of the published study in Cancer Research.

UC San Diego Selected as Study Site for National Research Network

27 institutions looking for ways to boost immune system to fight cancer

The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine is among 27 research institutions selected across North America to be a part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN), funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The CITN will establish a network of top academic immunologists to conduct multicenter research on agents that boost patients’ own immune systems to fight their cancer. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Thomas Kipps, pictured above, is principal investigator of the UC San Diego CITN study site. Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and deputy director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. He holds the Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research. Read more about the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network.

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.