Gene Mutation “Hotspots” Linked to Better Breast Cancer Outcomes

Genetic phenomenon associated with low tumor invasiveness and longer patient survival could inform prognosis and help identify patients who would best respond to immunotherapy and other treatments —

Kataegis is a recently discovered phenomenon in which multiple mutations cluster in a few hotspots in a genome. The anomaly was previously found in some cancers, but it has been unclear what role kataegis plays in tumor development and patient outcomes. Using a database of human tumor genomic data, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have discovered that kataegis is actually a positive marker in breast cancer — patients with these mutation hotspots have less invasive tumors and better prognoses. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Jill Mesirov

Dr. Jill Mesirov

The study coauthors included Department of Medicine faculty researchers Pablo Tamayo, PhD, and Jill P. Mesirov, PhD. Both are Professors of Medicine in the Division of Genetics.

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Researchers Block Pathway to Cancer Stem Cell Self-Renewal

NOTCH1 Signaling Promotes T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Initiating Cell Regeneration

Research suggests that patients with leukemia sometimes relapse because standard chemotherapy fails to kill the self-renewing leukemia initiating cells, often referred to as cancer stem cells … A team of researchers – led by Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of Stem Cell Research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center – studied these cells in mouse models that had been transplanted with human leukemia cells. They discovered … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Catriona JamiesonThe senior investigator of the study described in the press release is Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director of stem cell research at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

In the study, the investigators successfully block leukemia stem cell self-renewal. Their work was funded in part by a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Development of Highly Active Anti-Leukemia Stem Cell Therapy (HALT) Leukemia Disease Team Research grant for which Dr. Jamieson serves as co-principal investigator with Dennis A. Carson, MD, former director of the Moores Cancer Center.

The overall goal of the HALT project is to develop six drugs – three monoclonal antibodies and three small molecules – to destroy leukemia stem cells.

Funding also came from the Ratner Family Foundation and the Leichtag Family Foundation. Antibody development was performed by Pfizer.

In her research, Dr. Jamieson focuses on translational studies to develop new treatments for myeloproliferative disorders and leukemia. In 2010, she received a $3.34 million grant from CIRM to support her efforts to develop treatments that reduce the risk of relapse in leukemia.  More about this funded project

Dr. Jamieson was named to the “San Diego’s Top Doctors” list for 2010 and 2011.

More information:

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.