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News

Refining the toolkit for sugar analysis
11/1/2021
Sialic acids, which cap glycan branches, are a topic of complexity to glycobiologists. This unique class of sugars is manipulated by microbes to detrimentally affect the human body.

Dr. Adjit Varki has used these microbes to his advantage, using them as a source of sialic-acid affinity reagents. His team assembled a panel of nine reagents along with a general detector for mammalian sialic acid. Dr. Adjit Varki states, “We are like kids in a candy shop,” says Ajit Varki. “The bad part is, there aren’t many kids in the shop.” The new reagents should make it easier for other biologists to get a taste.
Stem cell agency gives out $2 million a minute
9/29/2021
The directors of the California stem cell agency provided $2 million in funding to Alysson Muorti, PhD , a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular & Molecular Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

His proposed training program received high marks from anonymous reviewers, with a key comment stating "The program director and co-director have excellent track records leading the stem cell training program at the institution. Their respective experience in modeling human developmental disorders in human stem cell-based systems, and in clinical research is nicely complementary and gives the program overall a good balance between basic and more applied stem cell science."
$6M NIH Grant Launches UC San Diego Consortium to Study Insulin-Producing Cells
9/9/2021
The NIH launched a new program, Impact of Genomic Variation on Function Consortium, which provided a team of UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers, including UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Bing Ren, PhD , $6.4 million in grant funding to study how external signals and genetic variations influence the behavior of one cell type in particular: insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

With this funding, the team will use their beta cell models to detail how external signals determine insulin output. They’ll look at 10 different stimuli known to modify insulin secretion, including sugar, other nutrients and food-dependent hormones, and determine how the beta cell genome and insulin release change in response to those stimuli over various lengths of time.
Human Mini-Lungs Grown in Lab Dishes are Closest Yet to Real Thing
8/31/2021
To address whether adult lung organoid models are propagable, personalized, and complete with both proximal airway and distal alveolar cell types against existing models that are incomplete, Pradipta Ghosh, MD, and Soumita Das, PhD, led a study to assess and cross-validate the adult lung organoid model against COVID-19 patient-derived respiratory samples.

“This human disease model will now allow us to test drug efficacy and toxicity, and reject ineffective compounds early in the process, at ‘Phase 0,’ before human clinical trials begin,” said Pradipta Ghosh, MD . This development of lung organoids will enable the advancement of lung disease models beyond COVID-19. The HUMANOID CoRE lung organoids are being implemented in academic and industry already, transforming our understanding of lung disease.
Brain Organoids Mimic Head Size Changes Associated with Type of Autism
8/25/2021
A study was led by Lilia Iakoucheva, PhD and Alysson Muorti, MD to study variations in the 16p11.2 region of the genome, which are associated with autism spectrum disorder. The team used brain organoids — tiny, 3D cellular models generated in the lab from people with 16p11.2 variations.

These organoids revealed new information about the molecular mechanisms that malfunction when the 16p11.2 region of the genome is disrupted. RhoA — a protein that plays a big part in many basic cellular functions, such as development and movement — was found to be more active in both 16p11.2-deleted and 16p11.2-duplicated organoids than it is in organoids without these variations. Interestingly, inhibiting this protein in autism-like organoids, caused the neuronal migration to be restored to levels seen in the control organoids. "Our work opens the possibility to therapeutically manipulate the RhoA pathway, which can potentially help millions of patients," said Alysson Muorti, MD .
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