SEATTLE — Sept. 1, 2022 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center research findings and other news.

Please note: On April 1, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center merged with our care partner, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Our new name is Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch on subsequent references). Read more about our recent restructure here.

Cancer research

Rethinking why cancer doesn't happen Genetic mutations are linked to many cancers, but they don’t guarantee cancer. Scientists are discovering biological forces that can prevent genetic mutations from causing cancer cells to grow. In this two part series, Fred Hutch’s Drs. Slobodan Beronja and Cyrus Ghajar discuss the biology behind how our bodies fight off cancer. The researchers’ studies, including on mutated cells that don’t turn cancerous and cancer cells that hibernate rather than grow into tumors, are giving clues on how cancer could be prevented.

Making immunotherapy more effective against small cell lung cancer Immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have given many lung cancer patients a lifesaving new option, but patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) experimence little benefit. A new Fred Hutch study published in Clinical Cancer Research shows how making cancer cells more visible to the immune system could help. In mice, the researchers combined an immune checkpoint inhibitor and an experimental compound suppressed tumor growth. A clinical trial is underway, too.

Infectious disease research

What viruses can teach us about ourselves Fred Hutch’s Dr. Daphne Avgousti studies viruses and the ways they hijack fundamental structures in our cells. In a Q&A, she describes her work on herpes simplex virus, adenovirus and — most recently — a pox virus called vaccinia virus. Dr. Avgousti’s work could help us find new ways to protect against infection and inflammation or even help us better understand cancer.

COVID-19 complacency: ‘A hard shift for the immunocompromised’ Even with vaccines and antivirals, cancer patients and the immunocompromised remain vulnerable to infection with COVID-19. Fred Hutch experts d their recommendations for staying safe, including staying up to date on boosters, utilizing monoclonal antibodies and antivirals if eligible, and testing when you believe you have been exposed or have been in a high-risk environment.

Other notable news

Fauci visits Fred Hutch, discusses pandemics, vaccines and scientific misinformation In an appearance before a live audience on Fred Hutch’s campus, Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down with Dr. Larry Corey — renowned virologist and president and director emeritus of Fred Hutch —  to discuss their friendship and collaborations on pandemic research spanning nearly four decades. Dr. Fauci also received an honorary Hutch Award in recognition of his lifetime of service in public health. A recording of the conversation is on Fred Hutch’s YouTube channel.

'Microprotein' researcher Maria Toro Moreno is named a Hanna Gray Fellow Dr. Maria Toro Moreno, a postdoctoral fellow at Fred Hutch, was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna Gray Fellow. Jointly mentored by evolutionary biologist Dr. Harmit Malik and computational and molecular biologist Dr. Arvind “Rasi” Subramaniam, Toro Moreno is working to understand whether certain microproteins defend against infections like HIV and influenza, and whether they can shed light on how new genes arise and evolve.

All in: Obliteride 2022 unites thousands to help cure cancer faster One of Fred Hutch’s major fundraising events, Obliteride, took place on Aug. 13 with a record-breaking 5,500 people on more than 450 teams. People participated in person and virtually and over $40 million has been raised so far this year, with fundraising officially ending on Sept. 30. Since 2013, Obliteride has supported more than 200 projects and 70 researchers at Fred Hutch.

Science spotlight Science Spotlight is a monthly installment of articles written by postdoctoral fellows at Fred Hutch that summarize new research papers from Fred Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact: [email protected]

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center combines adult cancer care and advanced scientific research, and has a history of discoveries that treat, cure and identify prevention strategies for cancer and infectious diseases. The organization was renamed in April 2022, following the merger of long-time partners, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.

Fred Hutch has been a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center since 1973. Global leadership in bone marrow transplantation, HIV/AIDS, immunotherapy and COVID-19 helped Fred Hutch earn recognition as one of the world’s leading cancer, infectious disease and biomedical research centers. Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services, and has network affiliations with hospitals in five states.