Stuck on Flu

How a sugar-rich mucus barrier traps the virus – and it gets free to infect

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown for the first time how influenza A viruses snip through a protective mucus net to both infect respiratory cells and later cut their way out to infect other cells. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Robert T. "Chip" Schooley

Dr. Robert T. Schooley

Project co-investigators from the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine are Robert T. “Chip” Schooley, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the division; associate project scientist Xing-Quan Zhang; and Hui-Wen Chen, now at the School of Veterinary Medicine at National Taiwan University.

Dr. Schooley is academic affairs vice chair for the Department of Medicine.

Citation for the study report in Virology Journal:

Miriam Cohen, Xing-Quan Zhang, Hooman P Senaati, Hui-Wen Chen, Nissi M Varki, Robert T Schooley, Pascal Gagneux. Influenza A penetrates host mucus by cleaving sialic acids with neuraminidase. Virology Journal 2013, 10:321 (22 November 2013) doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-321.  |  Full text (Open access)

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Dr. Rohit Loomba on Fatty Liver Disease: HHMI Bulletin

Dr. Rohit LoombaDr. Rohit Loomba, a UCSD hepatologist who specializes in fatty liver disease, is interviewed in an article about the disease in the Fall 2012 health bulletin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In “The Fat You Can’t See,” Loomba describes the rising incidence of fatty liver disease and points to society’s general increase in dietary sugar intake as a major cause. He emphasizes the importance of identifying individuals who are at highest risk for developing the disease and he predicts there will be a dramatic increase in our understanding of the disease in the next five years.

Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, is assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. He also holds an appointment in the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Loomba conducts his clinical practice in UC San Diego Health System’s liver disease clinics. In his research laboratory, he conducts a variety of studies of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), including a number of clinical trials.

With a four-year mentored patient-oriented research career development grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Loomba is investigating the genetic epidemiology of NAFLD in a twin-pair study. In that work, his mentors are UCSD researchers Daniel T. O’Connor, MD, professor of medicine and pharmacology; Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, distinguished professor and chief of the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; and David Brenner, MD, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine.

Loomba serves as the UCSD site principal investigator for the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network (NASH-CRN) studies in adult patients with NAFLD. NASH-CRN, an NIDDK-sponsored research consortium funded via a UO1 research program-cooperative agreement mechanism, aims to improve understanding of the natural history, pathophysiology and management of NAFLD.

In addition, he is the founding director and principal investigator of the San Diego Integrated NAFLD Research Consortium (SINC), which includes four centers: UCSD, Kaiser Permanente Health System, Sharp Health System, and Balboa Naval Medical Center. SINC is a collaborative network that allows community-based patients to participate in NAFLD studies conducted at UCSD.

Loomba has established a major NAFLD research program at UCSD with recently published investigator-initiated treatment studies in NASH (Le et al., Hepatology September 2012) and several in progress.

In various NAFLD translational research studies currently ongoing at UCSD, Loomba collaborates with Drs. Jerrold Olefsky, David Brenner, Claude Sirlin, Bernd Schnabl, Lars Eckmann, Edward Dennis, Ariel Feldstein and Ekihiro Seki.

He also directs the UCSD fellowship training program in liver epidemiology and patient-oriented outcomes research.

More Information:

Sexual Selection by Sugar Molecule Helped Determine Human Origins

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say that losing the ability to make a particular kind of sugar molecule boosted disease protection in early hominids, and may have directed the evolutionary emergence of our ancestors, the genus Homo….Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Ajit Varki

Dr. Ajit Varki, pictured above left, is senior author along with Dr. Pascal Gagneux, who is professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 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 study published in PNAS (free full text)

Non-human Sugar in Biotech Drugs Causes Inflammation

New research findings from Dr. Ajit Varki and colleagues are the subject of the UCSD Newsroom story, “Non-human Sugar in Biotech Drugs Causes Inflammation.”

Ajit Varki, M.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. He co-directs the UC San Diego Glycobiology Research and Training Center and the UC San Diego/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA). He is Associate Dean of the Physician-Scientist Training Program.

Varki and Coworkers Find Possible Link Between Dietary Meat Products and Cancer Growth

Dr. Ajit Varki and a team of UCSD investigators have found that Neu5Gc, a sugar molecule not naturally produced by humans but found in red meat products, is also present in tumor tissue.

Neu5Gc may cause low-grade, chronic inflammation by accumulating in tissue after meat products are eaten and provoking the body to mount an ongoing immune defense against it.

Chronic inflammation is known to contribute to cancer risk.

The finding extends Dr. Varki’s earlier work exploring Neu5Gc (N-glycolylneuraminic acid), the immune system, and inflammation.

Read the full story
from UC San Diego
Health Sciences Communications

Ajit Varki, M.D., is Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Division of Hematology/Oncology) and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and co-director of the UCSD Glycobiology Research and Training Center.

Dr. Varki is also Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training.

The study report is in publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS):

Hedlund M, Padler-Karavani V, Varki NM, Varki A. Evidence for a human-specific mechanism for diet and antibody-mediated inflammation in carcinoma progression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 18. [Epub ahead of print]    Abstract | Read the report (full text)

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