Novel Phage Therapy Saves Patient with Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infection

Intravenous viruses are used to target deadly bacterium; dramatic case suggests potential alternative to failing antibiotics —

Scientists and physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, working with colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Center – Biological Defense Research Directorate (NMRC-BDRD), Texas A&M University, a San Diego-based biotech and elsewhere, have successfully used an experimental therapy involving bacteriophages — viruses that target and consume specific strains of bacteria — to treat a patient near death from a multidrug-resistant bacterium. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health 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.

Researchers Find Key Player in Diabetic Kidney Disease Through Power of Metabolomics

Tapping the potential of metabolomics, an emerging field focused on the chemical processes of metabolism, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a new and pivotal player in diabetic kidney disease.

The study, published online July 22 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, also clarifies a central mechanism of action in diabetic kidney disease that is generating considerable excitement among researchers and the biopharmaceutical community. The mechanism, involving the NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) oxidase (NOX) proteins, NOX1 and NOX4, is now the subject of a phase II clinical trial for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego News Center


Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHASenior author of the study report is Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA, professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Read the study report in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology  (UC San Diego Only)

Binational Police Program in Tijuana Targets HIV Reduction

Effort also aims to improve safety of officers —

Research consistently shows that policing practices, such as confiscating or breaking needles, are key factors in the HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs. Police officers themselves are also at risk of acquiring HIV or viral hepatitis if they experience needle-stick injuries on the job — a significant source of anxiety and staff turn-over.

A binational team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, Mexico Section has launched a new research project aimed at promoting prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections. The effort is led by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, professor and director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative, Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, associate professor, and Gudelia Rangel, PhD, deputy general director for migrant health and executive secretary of the Mexico Section of the Mexico-United States Border Health Commission, in partnership with the Tijuana Police Department and Police Academy. The binational team will offer and evaluate Proyecto ESCUDO (Project SHIELD), a police education program designed to align law enforcement and HIV prevention in Tijuana. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


More Anti-inflammatory Genes Mean Longer Lifespans for Mammals

Mammal species with higher copy numbers of siglec receptor genes have longer maximum lifespans —

We age in part thanks to “friendly fire” from the immune system — inflammation and chemically active molecules called reactive oxygen species that help fight infection, but also wreak molecular havoc over time, contributing to frailty, disability and disease. The CD33rSiglec family of proteins are known to help protect our cells from becoming inflammatory collateral damage, prompting researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ask whether CD33rSiglecs might help mammals live longer, too. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

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

Tumor Suppressor Mutations Alone Don’t Explain Deadly Cancer

Biomarker for head and neck cancers identified

Although mutations in a gene dubbed “the guardian of the genome” are widely recognized as being associated with more aggressive forms of cancer, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found evidence suggesting that the deleterious health effects of the mutated gene may in large part be due to other genetic abnormalities, at least in squamous cell head and neck cancers. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Trey Ideker, PhD

Trey Ideker, PhD, professor and chief in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor of bioengineering, is one of the study’s co-senior authors.

Other Department of Medicine faculty authors include Hannah Carter, PhD, assistant professor; and Scott M. Lippman, MD, professor of medicine and director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Hannah Carter, PhD Dr. Scott M. Lippman

The Connection Between Oxygen and Diabetes

A lack of O2 in fat cells triggers inflammation and insulin resistance in obesity:

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have, for the first time, described the sequence of early cellular responses to a high-fat diet, one that can result in obesity-induced insulin resistance and diabetes. The findings, published in the June 5 issue of Cell, also suggest potential molecular targets for preventing or reversing the process.

Dr. Jerrold Olefsky“We’ve described the etiology of obesity-related diabetes. We’ve pinpointed the steps, the way the whole thing happens,” said Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD (left), associate dean for Scientific Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego. “The research is in mice, but the evidence suggests that the processes are comparable in humans and these findings are important to not just understanding how diabetes begins, but how better to treat and prevent it … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Statins Shown to Cause Fatigue

In a study of more than 1,000 adults, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are more likely than non-users to experience decreased energy, fatigue upon exertion, or both. The researchers suggest that these findings should be taken into account by doctors when weighing risk versus benefit in prescribing statins. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


More information:

  • Read the article in Archives of Internal Medicine
    Online First: June 11. 2012: Arch Intern Med. 2012;():1-2. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.2171
  • Citation for Publication: Golomb BA, Evans MA, Dimsdale JE, White HL. Effects of statins on energy and fatigue with exertion: results from a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. Published online August 13, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.2171..

In Memoriam: Wiley Vale, PhD

Dr. Vale

Wylie W. Vale, Jr, PhD
1941 – 2012

Wiley W. Vale, Jr, PhD, a renowned and beloved Salk Institute and UC San Diego scientist whose pioneering work identified key brain hormones and growth factors, died on January 6 at the age of 70.

Vale was Professor and Helen McLoraine Chair in Molecular Neurobiology and Head of the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

He was highly regarded as the global authority on peptide hormones and growth factors that provide communication between the brain and endocrine system. Vale and his collaborators identified the central switchboard, a group of neuropeptides and their receptors that mediate the body’s responses to stress and stress-related disorders.

Among these neuropeptides is corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), characterized by Vale and colleagues in 1981. The work has had far-reaching effects in medical research and clinical medicine.

At UCSD, Vale held an adjunct professorship in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He contributed for many years as a researcher and educator in the School of Medicine and the Neurobiology Section of the Division of Biological Sciences.

“This is a great loss for those of us at UCSD who knew and worked with Wylie, and a great loss for endocrine science,” said Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“Wylie and his group of peptide chemists and neuroendocrinologists trained several PhD students in the Biomedical Sciences and Neurosciences graduate programs who have taken leadership positions in research and academia,” said Palmer Taylor, PhD.

Taylor is Sandra and Monroe Trout Professor of Pharmacology, founding Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences.

Vale’s coworkers and friends in the School of Medicine included numerous faculty members in the departments of reproductive medicine, neurosciences, psychiatry and surgery.

In 2004, Vale and colleagues at UCSD established the firmest link between a family of hormones that helps the body adapt to stress and possible new treatments for congestive heart failure.

Vale discovered that the hormone urocortin-2 has a positive impact on heart function, and the hormone was shown to significantly enhance heart muscle contractions. | Read the abstract of the study report in PNAS

In that effort, Vale collaborated with Drs. Kirk Peterson, Kenneth Chien and coworkers at the Seaweed Canyon Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory and the Institute for Molecular Medicine.

Kirk L. Peterson, MD, FACP, FACC, the Edith and William M. Perlman Professor of Clinical Cardiology, is Director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Director of the Seaweed Canyon Physiology Laboratory and professor emeritus in cardiology.

Kenneth Chien, MD, PhD, is professor emeritus in cardiology and former director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine.

Vale was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. In 1992-1993, he served as president of the Endocrine Society.

He co-founded two biotechnology companies, Neurocrine Biosciences and Acceleron Pharma, Inc.

The Vale family and the Endocrine Society have placed tribute pages on the Web where remembrances can be entered and viewed. Vale family tribute | Endocrine Society tribute

For more about Dr. Vale and his work, please see the Salk Institute press release.