Research Highlights

2007 Key Findings

Worm study shows antidepressant may lengthen life
A drug used to treat human depression could extend the life span of adult roundworms by about 30 percent, possibly by mimicking the effects of caloric restriction, according to a discovery by Dr. Linda Buck and colleagues Drs. Michael Petrascheck and Xiaolan Ye.

Cholera can be controlled with oral vaccines
An international team of researchers led by Dr. Ira Longini demonstrated that endemic cholera, a potentially fatal disease found in the world's most impoverished countries, could be effectively controlled by orally vaccinating half of the affected populations once every two years for only pennies per dose.

WHI data shows cutting fat may reduce ovarian-cancer risk
Dr. Ross Prentice and colleagues analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative, the largest study ever devoted to women's health, and found that a low-fat diet, in addition to reducing the risk of breast and colorectal cancer, may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women.

Two genes linked to disabling form of arthritis
An international team of researchers led by Dr. Lon Cardon discovered two genes linked to a disabling form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. The discovery ultimately could help improve diagnostics and drug discovery for this painful disease.

Study confirms human-to-human spread of avian-flu virus
In the first statistical analysis of its kind, infectious-disease-modeling experts at the Hutch confirmed the first human-to-human, rather than bird-to-human, transmission of the avian influenza virus. In the process, they developed TranStat, a software application to help first responders more rapidly contain future infectious-disease outbreaks.

Tumor painting revolutionizes fight against cancer
Dr. Jim Olson and colleagues have developed a "tumor paint" that illuminates cancerous cells so surgeons can see more precisely where a tumor begins and ends, which could be especially helpful for removing brain and other tumors. The paint also one day could be used as a non-invasive screening tool for the early detection of skin, cervical, esophageal, colon and lung cancers.

Cell toxin found to inhibit survival proteins in cancer cells
Dr. David Hockenbery used a modified version of a toxin long used to control invasive fish in lakes to selectively kill therapy-resistant cancer cells, paving the way for new drugs that could lower resistance to cancer therapies and make treatments more effective.

Ancient retrovirus sheds light on modern pandemic
Contributing to the emerging field of paleovirology — the study of ancient viruses — Drs. Michael Emerman and Harmit Malik revealed that an immune-system gene that successfully protected humans from a particular virus four million years ago now makes us particularly vulnerable to HIV, findings that provide a better understanding of this modern pandemic infection.

Simple symptoms may be first screening test for ovarian cancer
Though often called a "silent killer," Dr. Barbara Goff and other Hutch researchers found early stage ovarian cancer can be detected rapidly and cost-effectively by a simple symptom survey.

Moderate physical activity critical for reducing chronic-disease risk
Dr. Anne McTiernan and colleagues found direct evidence that moderate physical activity reduces the risk of chronic disease in men and women by melting intra-abdominal fat, a hidden risk factor for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Early success shows potential of umbilical cord-blood transplants
Dr. Colleen Delaney leads a breakthrough clinical trial using lab-expanded units of umbilical cord blood in place of a standard bone-marrow transplant for leukemia patients who can't find a conventional donor.

MRI detects twice as many opposite-breast tumors
Dr. Connie Lehman found that adding magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) scans to examinations of women with breast cancer vastly improves detection of a second cancer in the opposite breast.

Obesity increases prostate-cancer mortality risk
A study led by Dr. Alan Kristal showed that obese men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than two-and-a-half times the risk of dying from the disease as men of normal weight.

Genetic sequence found for rare form of pancreatic cancer
Dr. Sunil Hingorani discovered the specific sequence of genetic changes that determines the development of either a deadly or a more curable form of pancreatic cancer, findings that could eventually lead to new ways to improve treatment and survival.

Aspirin reduces esophageal-cancer risk in people with Barrett's esophagus
Drs. Patricia C. Galipeau and Xiaohong Li found that people with the most-aggressive form of Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer, may benefit the most from preventive therapy with aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.