CIRM Approves New Funding to UC San Diego Researchers Fighting Zika Virus and Cancer

Grants focus on re-purposing drugs to treat Zika infections and using anti-cancer natural killer cells —

The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved a pair of $2 million awards to University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers to advance studies of new treatments for Zika virus infections and the use of stem cell-derived natural killer (NK) cells to target ovarian cancer and other malignancies. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Dr. Dan Kaufman and his laboratory received one of the two $2.1 million CIRM grants. The normal immune system contains natural killer (NK) cells; Dr. Kaufman and coworkers are using induced human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to produce NK cells that can target specific tumors, such as ovarian cancer, with high specificity.

Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of Cell Therapy at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Building a Defense Against Zika

UC San Diego researchers leading efforts to find turning point to virus —

On April 18, 1947, a monkey in Uganda’s Zika Forest fell ill with a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 degrees higher than normal. “Rhesus No. 766” was part of a yellow fever virus study. Scientists took a blood sample. They conducted tests. The rhesus monkey had been stricken by something unknown. In time, the revealed virus would be named after the place where it was first discovered.

But for decades to follow, the Zika virus would garner only sporadic and limited scientific attention. It was determined that the virus could infect humans, but symptoms—if there were any—appeared to be mild (fever, joint pain, rash) and passing. Zika wasn’t deemed a significant human health threat until a major outbreak occurred in the Yap Islands north of Australia in 2007, followed by another in French Polynesia in 2013. For the first time, the Zika virus was associated with serious symptoms, including life-threatening neurological disorders. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom