La Jolla News Nuggets

Workers slowly bring the Mandarin House back to life at 6765 La Jolla Blvd.

Scripps Research finds path to better drug discoveries

In a study with implications for the future of drug discovery, Scripps Research scientists showed that simple chemicals can be turned into unique 3-D structures resembling those found in nature — structures with desirable properties for medicines.

In the process, they found a potential drug lead for inflammatory disease, which is now being investigated further. The research appears in the journal Nature Chemistry.

“We were able to start with flat molecules and use a single chemical operation to create much more complex shapes, such as those you would expect from metabolites of medicinal plants or marine organisms,” said Scripps Research professor and senior study author Ryan Shenvi. “In essence, we found a way to bridge the gap between the synthetic space and natural products, opening up a whole new realm to explore for potential drugs.”

In the field of drug discovery, compounds made by nature are thought to have some advantages over synthetic molecules, which are created from simple chemical feedstocks. Much of it has to do with their shape: so-called “natural products” tend to have complex, spherical 3-D structures that bind more precisely with molecules in the body, providing favorable drug attributes such as fewer side effects.

Mandarin House, Pinpoint Cafe remodel

Two La Jolla culinary institutions are undergoing makeovers.

Workers can now be seen daily at the Mandarin House, which operated at 6765 La Jolla Blvd. for more than 40 years until a kitchen fire closed it last Aug. 6. (Fire investigators determined the cause to be grease buildup in a vent.)

The restaurant’s owner, Mandarin Partners — which also owns the building — originally hoped to reopen by Christmas. But remodeling took longer than expected, so the target date was pushed back to March.

Then, workers onsite told the Light someone recently crashed their car through one of the restaurant’s cinder-block walls. So, reopening day has again been rescheduled — to April or May.

The Pinpoint Cafe, 7855 Ivanhoe Ave., should be reopened by the time you read this. The coffee bar — operated for three years by sisters (and former Brick & Bell employees) Aline and Caroline Comenale — is trading in its steel structure with canvas-tented roof for a more solid wooden design.

La Jolla surf legend celebrated

Skip Stratton, known for uniting groups of surfers from La Jolla and Los Angeles in the ’60s, recently celebrated his 80th birthday with other surfers who remember when boards were long and wooden and wetsuits were for babies. The group — which calls itself the Tuesday Morning Gang and gathers every Tuesdays in Cardiff — includes La Jolla surf legend Woody Ekstrom, 92.

“He casts a big shadow,” Jim Stratton told the group of his older brother, who has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for about six years.

“If you haven’t been touched by this disease, you don’t know what it takes,” he added.

Gillispie-adjacent cottages sold

Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) announced the sale of 7342 Girard Ave. for $3.1 million to an undisclosed private buyer. The address is occupied by a set of eight cottages built in 1954 between what is now the Gillispie School and the La Jolla Professional Center. Their total square footage is 4,032.

The zoning on the property allows the development of up to 28 micro units, according to a press release by CBRE. The buyer also has the option of redeveloping the property into condominiums or townhomes. Real-estate agents John Newton and Erik Anderson represented the seller, a local owner, in the transaction. The buyer was self-represented.

“There were a lot of moving parts to the deal due to the condition of the property, the passage of local rent control laws, the existing conversion of three units from residential to office space, and the relocation of the office tenant,” said Newton in the press release. “CBRE was brought in after the property failed to sell last year with another firm. After presenting the market with detailed options for hold or redevelopment, we structured an agreement to help the buyers achieve their value-add business plan while maximizing the sale price for our seller.”

Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles at LJBTC

The 131st annual Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship returns March 6-8 to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, 2000 Spindrift Drive.

The NCAA Men’s college teams on hand will include UC San Diego, University of San Diego, San Diego State, Boston College, Ball State, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, University of Michigan, Villanova and Washington University St. Louis.

According to an event spokesperson, this is the second-oldest tennis tournament in the U.S. to feature top men’s collegiate players.

Spectators are welcome free of charge — though there is a parking fee.

Novel ALS treatment developed in La Jolla

INmune Bio, a La Jolla immunology company developing treatments that reprogram the patient’s immune system to fight disease, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the ALS Association. The grant will fund proof-of-concept studies for XPro1595, a novel therapy targeting innate immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation as a cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“We believe precision targeting of the innate immune system by targeting inflammation with XPro1595 may be an effective treatment strategy in alleviating ALS,” said INmune director of neuroscience CJ Barnum. “This award allows INmune Bio to take the first step to determine whether XPro1595 has therapeutic potential for ALS patients.”