Predictive Proteins: Elevated Levels Trigger Metastatic Progression of Cancer Cells

New biomarker may offer more precise and accurate prognoses of disease —

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, with colleagues in Spain and Germany, have unraveled how elevated levels of particular proteins in cancer cells trigger hyperactivity in other proteins, fueling the growth and spread of a variety of cancers. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Pradipta GhoshDr. Pradipta Ghosh is senior author of the study report, which appears in the February 26 online publication of Scientific Reports.

Pradipta Ghosh, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Read Study Report (Full Text; Open Access)

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

Golgi Trafficking Controlled by G-Proteins

A family of proteins called G proteins are a recognized component of the communication system the human body uses to sense hormones and other chemicals in the bloodstream and to send messages to cells. In work that further illuminates how cells work, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a new role for G proteins that may have relevance to halting solid tumor cancer metastasis.

The study is reported online April 9 in Developmental Cell.

“Our work provides the first direct evidence that G proteins are signaling on membranes inside cells, not just at the cell surface as has been widely believed for several decades,” said Pradipta Ghosh, MD, associate professor and senior author. “This is significant because the G-protein pathway is a target of at least 30 percent of all current drugs on the market.” … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Pradipta Ghosh, MDDr. Pradipta Ghosh, is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Visit the Ghosh Laboratory website

See Full Text of Article in Developmental Cell (UC San Diego only)

Developmental Protein Plays Role in Spread of Cancer

A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating the spread of cancer, known as metastasis, report researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center in the June 15, 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Research. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Thomas Kipps

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, is principal investigator of the study reported in Cancer Research.

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

All study coauthors are affiliated with the Department of Medicine and the Moores Cancer Center.

Citation for the published study: Cui B, Zhang S, Chen L, Yu J, Widhopf GF II, Fecteau J-F, Rassenti LZ, and Kipps TJ. Targeting ROR1 Inhibits Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition and Metastasis. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3832 Cancer Res June 15, 2013 73; 3649  |  Read the abstract

Tumor-Activated Protein Promotes Cancer Spread

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center report that cancers physically alter cells in the lymphatic system – a network of vessels that transports and stores immune cells throughout the body – to promote the spread of disease, a process called metastasis.  … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Judith VarnerJudith Varner, PhD, is senior author of the study report. She is professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and an investigator in the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Citation for the study report:
PI3Kα activates integrin α4β1 to establish a metastatic niche in lymph nodes. Barbara Garmy-Susini, Christie J. Avraamides, Jay S. Desgrosellier, Michael C. Schmid, Philippe Foubert, Lesley G. Ellies, Andrew M. Lowy, Sarah L. Blair, Scott R. Vandenberg, Brian Datnow, Huan-You Wang, David A. Cheresh, and Judith Varner. PNAS 2013 ; published ahead of print May 13, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1219603110  |  Abstract  |  Read the article (PDF) (UCSD only)

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:

Tumor Metastasis with a Twist

Protein is key to early embryonic development, but later promotes spread of cancer

In the early stages of human embryogenesis, a transcription factor called Twist1 plays a key regulatory role in how the embryo assumes form and function. Much later in life, however, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, say Twist1 can re-emerge, taking a darker and more deadly turn…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado (pictured) and Jihoon Kim of the Division of Biomedical Informatics are among the authors of the study report. Lucila Ohno-Machado, M.D., Ph.D., is professor and chief of the division; Jihoon Kim, M.S., is senior statistician. Read the published article (full text).

Photo of Dr. Ohno-Machado: John Hanacek, Calit2 UC San Diego.

Dr. Mark Fuster Is Awarded “Joan’s Legacy” Grant for His Lung Cancer Research

Mark Fuster, M.D., Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, has received a $100,000 grant for his study of bronchioalveolar carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer, and the mechanisms of lung cancer metastasis.

The grant was awarded by the private foundation “Joan’s Legacy”: The Joan Scarangello Foundation to Conquer Lung Cancer.

Read the abstract from Dr. Fuster’s grant

More Information: