Locana Lights up Investors
Local biotech company Locana made news last month when it raised $55 million in venture capital funding.

Locana was co-founded in 2016 by Gene Yeo, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, David Nelles, who was a graduate student in Yeo’s lab at the time, and Richard Schneeberger, Yeo’s former classmate at UC San Diego Rady School of Management. The company’s initial technology was licensed from UC San Diego.

This new round of funding, known as Series A, reflects the excitement and belief in the company by investors ARCH Venture Partners, Temasek, Lightstone Ventures, UCB Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). The investment will allow Locana to recruit a top leadership team and advance their technology to the clinic.
Zebrafish Help Researchers Explore Alternatives to Bone Marrow Donation
A major player driving embryonic and blood cell development is the Wnt family of molecules. These molecules tell cells what to do by docking on Frizzled receptors, which sit on cell surfaces like antennae.

In their latest study, published May 20, 2019 by Nature Cell Biology , a UC San Diego research team was surprised to discover that when one particular Wnt signaling molecule, Wnt9a, is received by blood stem cells, three different molecules are involved. Scientist had previously thought there were only two.

“Our findings raise the possibility that such treatments will impact Wnt signaling,” said Karl Willert, PhD, associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and faculty member in the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.
UCSD professors join Einstein, MLK Jr. in honorary organization
Three UC San Diego professors were elected to an honorary organization among a class that includes Michelle Obama and former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the university announced Thursday.

UCSD professors Susan Ackerman, PhD, Yishi Jin, PhD and John Wixted are among the 214 individuals to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. The academy, founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock and James Bowdoin, is an honorary society and policy research center.
The Marathon Gene: Mutation May Explain Why Modern Humans Can Go the Distance
Studies suggest that a mutation caused humans to lose function of the CMAH gene two to three million years ago—around the same time humans seem to have developed an increased capacity for endurance running. Since CMAH is involved in making a sugar called Neu5Gc, humans, unlike most other mammals, no longer have this sugar. Building on previous work led by study author Ajit Varki, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist at the University of California San Diego, a new study suggests that losing the CMAH gene and Neu5Gc sugar might have given ancient humans an endurance running boost. These findings appeared in September 2018 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Machinery Used in Basic Cell Division Does Double Duty as Builder of Neurons
Researchers at the San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at University of California San Diego have identified an entirely new mechanism underlying the development and structure of the nervous system during embryogenesis.

The findings, publishing in the February 28, 2019 issue of Developmental Cell , focus on the dynamic coupling of microtubule ends to kinetochores, built on the centromeres of chromosomes, to direct chromosome segregation during cell division.

In their new paper, Arshad Desai, PhD, professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues report that the evolutionarily ancient kinetochore-microtubule coupling machine, called the KMN network, plays a critical role in neuronal morphogenesis —the biological process that causes a cell or organism to develop its shape.
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