Press Releases

Explore a featured selection of my press releases on research and clinical news

Artificial Intelligence Aids Discovery of Super Tight-Binding Antibodies

Scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based strategy for discovering high-affinity antibody drugs.

In the study, published January 28, 2023 in Nature Communications, researchers used the approach to identify a new antibody that binds a major cancer target 17-fold tighter than an existing antibody drug. The authors say the pipeline could accelerate the discovery of novel drugs against cancer and other diseases such as C

Stress-Tolerant Cells Drive Tumor Initiation in Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a molecular pathway critical to the initiation of pancreatic tumors. The mechanism could also contribute to the disease’s high resistance to chemotherapy and its propensity for metastasis. The study, published on January 16, 2022 in Nature Cell Biology, found that pancreatic tumor-initiating cells must first overcome local ‘isolation stress’ by creating their own tumor-promoting microenvironment, and then recrui

Tissue-Specific Immunity May Be the Future, if We Can First Learn its Rules

After experiencing an infection, the immune system leaves behind memory T cells, which maintain a long-lasting molecular memory of the pathogen and are ready to sound the alarm if it ever returns. While some memory T cells are designed to circulate through the bloodstream and provide whole-body protection, others reside in specific organs and are specialized to fight the pathogens that target that part of the body. These T cells can provide life-long immunity at the target tissue, but can also c

Enzyme Drives Cognitive Decline in Mice, Provides New Target for Alzheimer’s

“We were surprised to find that just a slight increase in PKCα activity was enough to recreate the Alzheimer’s phenotype in a mouse,” said senior author Alexandra C. Newton, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This is an amazing example of the importance of homeostasis in biology — even minor tweaks in kinase activity can result in pathology if the effects are allowed to accumulate over a lifetime.”

To confirm whether similar enzymatic changes could

UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Institute Launches Stem Cells Into Space

When astronaut Scott Kelly returned from a year-long trip aboard the International Space Station (ISS), lab tests revealed telomeric and pre-leukemic changes in his blood cells. These sorts of cellular changes had been observed in blood before, but only after decades of human aging.

Increasing evidence suggests that space and its lack of gravity can simulate and quicken aging in human stem cells, including those that give rise to blood cells. But understanding this process is not only useful fo

UC San Diego Awarded $8M to Expand Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trials

Stem cells show particular promise in treating diseases for which few other effective treatments exist. In these therapies, stem cells are introduced into the body where they develop into specialized cells that repair, restore, replace or regenerate cells that have been damaged by the disease.

As part of a state-wide effort to advance stem cell therapies, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded $8 million to the UC San Diego Alpha Stem Cell Clinic, part of the new

‘Leaky’ Activity of Mutated Enzyme Underlies Neurodegenerative Disease

Spinocerebellar ataxias are a group of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the degeneration of Purkinje cells, a major class of neurons in the cerebellum. The resulting cerebellar dysfunction leads patients to experience a loss of motor coordination and control.

One subtype of the disease, spinocerebellar ataxia type 14 (SCA14), was found to be caused by mutations in protein kinase C-gamma (PKCγ), an enzyme that regulates other proteins in Purkinje cells. But exactly how these mutations

Cancer Patients Facing Housing Instability Show Greater Risk of Mortality

“We wanted to understand what social and economic issues patients were facing when they first came in with a cancer diagnosis and how those might affect their long-term health,” said corresponding author Matthew P. Banegas, PhD, associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-director of the Center for Health Equity Education and Research.

To evaluate patients’ ‘baseline’ social risk, the researchers looked at data from patients who completed a social risk survey within 90 da

Adults Show Poorer Cognition, Better Well-Being with Age

“We wanted to better understand the interplay between cognition and mental health across aging, and whether they rely on activation of similar or different brain areas,” said senior author Jyoti Mishra, PhD, director of the NEATLabs and associate professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The study sampled 62 healthy younger adults in their 20s and 54 healthy older adults above age 60. Researchers evaluated participants’ mental health, surveying symptoms of anxiety, depression,

UC San Diego Joins NIH ‘Bridge to Artificial Intelligence’ Program

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have been selected to lead components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund’s Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI) program. Over the next four years, Bridge2AI will award $130 million to accelerate the widespread use of AI in biomedical research and health care.

Physicians and scientists have long recognized the potential of AI to help understand and treat disease, but its use in clinical and research

Violence is Common and Increasing in Pandemic-Era California

Women also showed greater mental health impacts and life disruptions due to violent experiences, with 82 percent of women reporting anxiety or depression as a result of physically aggressive, coercive or forced sexual behavior. Women who reported physical violence were also twice as likely as men to miss work or school as well as change or quit a job.

Socially and economically vulnerable Californians — including Latino and Black communities, LGBTQ communities, people with a history of homelessn

Disparities in United States COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

When reports showed COVID-19 vaccination rates were lower among racial/ethnic minority groups, most discussions focused on mistrust and misinformation among these populations or their reduced access to health care facilities. But new research from University of California San Diego and collaborating institutions has identified an additional barrier to equity: whether or not each health care facility actually received and administered vaccines.

In a study published July 28, 2022 in PLOS Medicine

Did Gonorrhea Give Us Grandparents?

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine previously found a set of human gene mutations that protect older adults against cognitive decline and dementia. In a new study, published July 9, 2022 in Molecular Biology and Evolution, they focus on one of these mutated genes and attempt to trace its evolution ⁠— when and why it appeared in the human genome. The findings suggest selective pressure from infectious pathogens like gonorrhea may have promoted the emergence of th

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain by Separating it from the Self

For centuries, people have been using mindfulness meditation to try to relieve their pain, but neuroscientists have only recently been able to test if and how this actually works. In the latest of these efforts, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine measured the effects of mindfulness on pain perception and brain activity.

The study, published July 7, 2022 in PAIN, showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pai

Study Reveals the Job Problems Contributing to Physician Suicide

Physician burnout and suicide are a growing public health concern, with 1 in 15 physicians experiencing suicidal ideation. Studies consistently show that physicians are more likely than non-physicians to experience work-related stressors prior to suicide. Still, the exact nature of these stressors was unknown.

To better understand and characterize the job stressors that contribute to physician suicide, researchers at UC San Diego Health reviewed the death investigation narratives from 200 physi

COVID-19 Rebound after Taking Paxlovid Likely Due to Insufficient Drug Exposure

Paxlovid is the leading oral medication for preventing severe cases of COVID-19 in high-risk individuals. However, symptoms returned in some patients after treatment was completed, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a health advisory on this so-called “COVID-19 rebound.”

In a study published June 20, 2022 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine evaluated one such patient and found their symptom re
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