Physicians at the UCSD School of Medicine implanted genetically modified brain tissue into the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient on April 5.

The study that will ensue marks the first in a series of studies physicians at the university will be doing with the disease.

The procedure took 11 hours and was done on a 60-year-old Caucasian women who had entered the beginning stages of the disease, which can include memory loss.

The surgery is led by UCSD neurosurgeon Hoi Sang U. The study was led by UCSD neurologist Mark H. Tuszynski and is unique because it is the first of its kind to use human gene therapy to treat a disease of the nervous system.

The treatment attempts to deliver a nerve growth factor to dying brain cells. Improvement may be seen in the patient within a few months, but the long-term efficacy of the treatment may not be gauged for several years because of the need to test it in a variety of subjects.

The study will be conducted in several phases, the first being intended to test whether the procedure is safe. This study is known as the “”safety/toxicity”” study and is based on previous work done by Tuszynski.

Scripps Student Receives

Fellowship, Writing Award

Luc Rainville, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has recently been honored with two prestigious awards.

He has been given a $20,000 fellowship from the Link Foundation Ocean Engineering and Instrumentation Fellowship Program and an Outstanding Student Paper Award from the American Geophysical Union.

Rainville is currently working under the guidance of Scripps oceanography professor Rob Pinkel. His research focuses on internal waves and instrumentation.

With the fellowship, Rainville is creating a “”wirewalker,”” an instrument that will have the ability to profile the ocean. The device uses the surface waves to examine the water column. The design of the instrument is innovative because of its simplicity and low cost.

The Outstanding Paper Award was given to Rainville for a paper he wrote based on his research on internal waves in the East China Sea, which was part of the Asian Sea Acoustics Experiment. The title of the paper was “”Vertical Shear Structure of the Kuroshio near the Shelf Break.””

UCSD Programs Helped City’s High-Tech Growth, Economy

In a report recently published by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, several UCSD programs were noted as contributors to San Diego’s success in the area of technological innovation, namely the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

The results were published as a part of the new San Diego Clusters of Innovation Initiative, a study designed to examine specific regions as part of the Council on Competitiveness’ national Clusters of Innovation Project.

Porter noted the high level of state support that UCSD receives, UCSD Connect, and collaborations between the university and corporate partners as specific reasons for economic growth in the area.

Porter also noted numerous challenges the region faces, including a disparity between the living wage and the cost of living.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Becomes SDSC Partner

The San Diego Supercomputer Center announced last Thursday that Arena Pharmaceuticals of San Diego had become a new member of SDSC’s Science and Technology Outreach program.

Arena and SDSC are interested in pursuing research in “”rational drug design.””

Arena, a San Diego-based company incorporated in 1997, has made pioneering advances in two areas of biotechnology.

The first has been the creation of an Internet accessible database cataloging both failures and successes in the research of gene therapy drugs.

The second advancement is a process they dub “”CART,”” standing for Constitutively Activated Receptor Technology, a research process that greatly increases the speed and decreases the cost of empirical research on the unidentified uses of known proteins that lie on the cell surfaces in the human body.

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