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Our major goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms promoting angiogenesis, tumor progression, and metastasis in order to develop novel therapeutics for cancer.
Our efforts have led to the understanding of how growth factors, growth factor receptors, and integrins drive signaling pathways leading to tumor cell invasion, migration, proliferation, and survival. My findings have helped to delineate how these processes are regulated at the molecular level, and we have identified downstream signaling events that play a critical role.
These studies have led to the development of integrin antagonists as novel therapeutics for cancer treatment that function to suppress the growth of angiogenic blood vessels. Two drugs that have developed from our work include Vitaxin (Abegrin), a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets αvβ3, and Cilengitide, a cyclic peptide antagonist of integrins αvβ3 and αvβ5. Both of these drugs have shown clinical activity in cancer patients in Phase II trials.
Early in my career, I developed antibodies to tumor antigens and used these as both research tools and potential therapeutics. Among the antibodies I developed was one specific for the oligosaccharide portion of the GD2 ganglioside, expressed on tumors of neuroectoderm origin. This antibody was later humanized (named Unituxin) and tested clinically for its activity in patients with advanced neuroblastoma. Unituxin produced a significant survival benefit in a phase III registration trial, and was approved by the FDA in March of 2015 as a front line therapy for patients with advanced neuroblastoma.
About the Lab
We typically maintain a group size of about 15-20 members, including staff scientists, post-doctoral fellows, clinical fellows, graduate students, and research associates.
Our research laboratory is located on the 4th floor of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM) building on the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego, and we have additional lab space on the 2nd floor of the research tower at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.
Along with our colleagues at UCSD, our close proximity to the Salk, Burnham, and Scripps research institutes provides a rich environment for collaboration.
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2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive #0695, La Jolla, CA 92037-0695