Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Tip Sheet: Tracking COVID-19, protein design, TB vaccines, a new brain map and more

SEATTLE – April 2, 2020 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings with links for additional background and media contacts.


Hutch Science: COVID-19
Our COVID-19 overview page highlights Fred Hutch scientific efforts and the center’s response to the global pandemic. We encourage you to join infectious disease expert Dr. Steven Pergam on Facebook Friday April 3, from 11 a.m.-noon PT. He’ll be taking questions and talking about COVID-19.
Media contact:

Translational science / protein design

Self-assembling donut-shaped protein platform for development of new biomolecules
Fred Hutch scientists designed a donut-shaped protein scaffold that can carry different cargoes. It offers several advantages over other molecular tools currently used in research and clinical operations, such as cell-therapy manufacturing. The discovery was published March 23 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Inside scorpion venom: a future Rx for arthritis?
A preclinical study published March 4 in Science Translational Medicine showed that tiny, scorpion-derived proteins can deliver arthritis drugs directly to joints. The approach could help avoid side effects caused by nontargeted treatment.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Infectious disease

Study points toward progress on TB vaccines
While there is no truly effective vaccine for tuberculosis, the best one available protects mostly children and is more than 100 years old. An international effort involving researchers at the Hutch is trying to improve that. An analysis published March 16 in EClinicalMedicine, an open-access journal run by The Lancet, explored what happens when young South Africans were revaccinated 12-17 years after they were immunized against TB as infants.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,

Basic sciences

A new guidebook to the brain
Fred Hutch scientists combined existing brain-mapping techniques to simultaneously map neural connections and also the molecular signals they use to communicate with each other. They’re using the approach to understand how molecules mediate responses to stress, which could help inform future therapies that blunt the negative effects of stress. The insights were published Feb. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Precision medicine

A breast tumor might have thousands of mutations. Which are important?
By the time a tumor is detected, it’s riddled with genetic mutations but it’s hard to tell which are driving its development and which are just along for the ride. A study published Feb. 13 in Cell Stem Cell described a new method to screen breast cancer-associated mutations for their functional consequences. These insights could help inform precision-medicine efforts aimed at discovering new treatment targets.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Other notable news

Fred Hutch recruits Dr. Paul M. Buckley to lead Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Fred Hutch announces 2020 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recipients

Fred Hutch research a GeekWire Award finalist for Health Innovation of the Year

Dr. Jennifer Adair receives Fleischauer Family Endowed Chair in Gene Therapy Translation

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Released: 26-May-2020 7:30 PM EDT
Dementia gene raises risk of severe COVID-19
University of Exeter

Having a faulty gene linked to dementia doubles the risk of developing severe COVID-19, according to a large-scale study.

Released: 26-May-2020 4:00 PM EDT
#FitForTheFrontLine Challenge Unites Nation’s Top Medical Centers in Support of Front-Line Health Care Workers
Mount Sinai Health System

Fitness challenge honors and supports health care heroes at Mount Sinai Health System and Academic Centers Across the Country. Goldman Sachs & Co., Peloton, Discovery, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, dtx and Pinterest Support First-Ever Collective Medical Center Campaign.

Newswise: 232760_web.jpg
Released: 26-May-2020 3:15 PM EDT
Peer-reviewed data shows remdesivir for COVID-19 improves time to recovery
NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The investigational antiviral remdesivir is superior to the standard of care for the treatment of COVID-19, according to a report published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Released: 26-May-2020 3:10 PM EDT
High Rates of COVID-19 on American Indian Reservations – Water and Language Barriers Affect Risk
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

Early in the pandemic, American Indian Reservations have experienced a disproportionately high incidence of COVID-19 infections: four times higher than in the US population, reports a study in the July/August issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The special issue of JPHMP focuses on COVID-19, with commentaries and scientific articles describing the pandemic in the United States and globally. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Newswise:Video Embedded covid-19-a-wake-up-call-for-the-need-for-new-antiviral-weapons
Released: 26-May-2020 3:00 PM EDT
COVID-19: A wake-up call for the need for new antiviral weapons
Morgridge Institute for Research

Even after heroic medical and societal efforts finally break the back of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the global sigh of relief may not last long. The chilling reality is that viral threats are growing more common. And they’re getting deadlier.

Newswise: Experts available to comment on racial and social inequality in COVID-19 health care
Released: 26-May-2020 12:55 PM EDT
Experts available to comment on racial and social inequality in COVID-19 health care
Indiana University

As all 50 U.S. states ease economic restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus, health and policy experts are braced for a potential second wave of COVID-19. Based on the first phase of the crisis, the hardest-hit populations are anticipated among communities of color, which have been disproportionally affected. According to a recent report from American Public Media Research Lab, African Americans are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as Latino or Asian Americans, and nearly 2 1/2 times as likely as whites. Indiana University experts on racial inequality, social inequality in health care and demographics data are available to comment on these topics.

26-May-2020 12:15 PM EDT
UCLA receives $1 million for COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

A $1 million gift from the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation will support the UCLA COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, a partnership of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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