UC San Diego Launches New Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Research Center

Roughly one-quarter of all Americans – an estimated 100 million adults and children – have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Combining a diverse array of basic science, biomarkers, imaging and clinical efforts, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has launched a new NAFLD Research Center to better understand the disease and develop treatments where none currently exist.

“We already have a lot of depth and breadth in the study and treatment of NAFLD and associated conditions at UC San Diego,” said Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the new center. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MDNAFLD Research Center director Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Associate Director of Clinical Research in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

He is a clinical and translational physician-scientist who focuses his work on chronic liver diseases with particular attention to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). He is an internationally recognized expert in translational research and innovative clinical trial design in NAFLD and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic fibrosis.

He directs the NAFLD Clinic at UC San Diego Medical Center.

Dr. Loomba became a member of the Division of Gastroenterology faculty in 2009, when he graduated from the UC San Diego Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. He received his clinical and research training in advanced hepatology at the National Institutes of Health.

He holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the UC San Diego Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego.

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)

Researchers Illuminate Key Role of NOX Proteins in Liver Disease

Study adds credence to new treatment approach now in clinical trials —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have demonstrated a direct connection between two signaling proteins and liver fibrosis, a scarring process underlying chronic liver disease, the 12th leading cause of death in the United States.

The finding adds further credence to a current pharmaceutical effort to create new treatments for diabetic nephropathy, liver fibrosis and other progressive fibrotic and inflammatory diseases, based on blocking these two molecules, both members of the NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) oxidase (NOX) family of proteins. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego News Center


David A. Brenner, MDSenior author of the study report is David A. Brenner, MD, vice chancellor for health sciences, dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine and professor in the Division of Gastroenterology. The report was published online in PLOS ONE on July 29.

Read the article (open access)

New Drug Combination Treats Hepatitis C Patients Also Infected with HIV

Novel treatment has 97 percent success rate in co-infected patients —

Roughly 20 to 30 percent of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are also infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV). Both blood-borne viruses share the same modes of transmission, but many HCV medications currently have significant limitations due to adverse interactions with HIV treatments. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report a new combination that effectively treats HCV in patients co-infected with HIV. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


David L. Wyles, MD, is lead author of the New England Journal of Medicine article that reports the results of the multi-center study. Dr. Wyles is associate professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Read the article online:

Wyles D.L., Ruane P.J., Sulkowski M.S., et al. Daclatasvir plus Sofosbuvir for HCV in Patients Coinfected with HIV-1. New England Journal of Medicine July 21, 2015, 10.1056/NEJMoa1503153.  Free full text

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

UC San Diego and GSK Collaborate to Eradicate Cancer Stem Cells, Treat Leukemia

First California institution selected to participate in GSK’s bench-to-bedside academia-industry collaboration program —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center are working with GSK on a bench-to-bedside project to treat leukemia and other diseases by eliminating cancer stem cells. The collaboration is part of GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) program, where academic partners become core members of drug-hunting teams. Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine, will lead UC San Diego’s effort in the new DPAc team. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Leading Metabolics Researcher Joins UC San Diego School of Medicine

Alan Saltiel will head unified effort to create comprehensive diabetes center —

Alan R. Saltiel, PhD, whose studies of the hormone insulin have helped drive research of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders across the nation, is joining University of California, San Diego School of Medicine as professor and director of a new Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

Saltiel, who most recently served as director of the Life Sciences Institute at University of Michigan, will bring together and expand UC San Diego’s diverse programs to better understand and treat diabetes and other metabolic disorders. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Saltiel joins the Department of Medicine as professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

At the Nexus of Substance Abuse and HIV

UC San Diego Researcher Wins Major Award to Study New Treatments and Preventions —

Dan Werb, PhD, an internationally noted epidemiologist at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been named one of four inaugural recipients of the Avenir Award, a prestigious $1.5 million research grant from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

New Biomarkers Might Help Personalize Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Low levels of two genes predicts positive response to chemotherapy and longer survival times —

Metastatic colorectal cancer patients tend to live longer when they respond to the first line of chemotherapy their doctors recommend. To better predict how patients will respond to chemotherapy drugs before they begin treatment, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine conducted a proof-of-principle study with a small group of metastatic colorectal cancer patients. The results, published June 17 in PLOS ONE, revealed two genes that could help physicians make more informed treatment decisions for patients with this disease. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Senior author of the study is Department of Medicine oncologist Paul Fanta, MD, MS, Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Fanta is a researcher in the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Read the article in PLOS ONE (Open Access)

Clinical Trial Launched to Assess Safety and Efficacy of Autism Drug Treatment

UC San Diego researchers open first study of suramin in children with autism —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of an unprecedented drug therapy for autism.

The phase 1 clinical trial, which is recruiting 20 qualifying participants, will evaluate suramin – a century-old drug still used for African sleeping sickness – as a novel treatment for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previous published research by Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues reported that a single injection of suramin reversed symptoms of ASD in mouse models. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

He co-directs the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego.

More about research in the Naviaux laboratory