Since 2009, the Bezos family has donated and leveraged more than $40 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in support of immunotherapy research, which harnesses the power of the immune system to kill cancer. Thanks to their generosity, the Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center at the Hutch recently held an internal grant competition for immunotherapy projects with high potential to lead to future collaborative research.
The winner: a team of Hutch researchers led by brain cancer researcher Dr. Eric Holland that has received $400,000 for a two-year pilot study to test several novel immunotherapy approaches for glioma, an aggressive brain cancer that affects more than 688,000 people in the U.S. Ultimately, the research will speed the development of new treatments to improve prognosis for these patients, who have a median survival of only 15 months after diagnosis.
“The standard of care for patients with these tumors — surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy — has not changed in decades, and neither has the outcome. We hope through this work to change the standard of care and prolong survival for glioma patients,” said Holland, who is director of Seattle Translational Tumor Research and senior vice president and director of the Human Biology Division at Fred Hutch.
To develop new therapies before they can be tested in patients, Holland’s lab has developed a genetically engineered mouse model that is representative of human gliomas. Holland and colleagues from the Hutch's Clinical Research Division plan to use these mouse models to test several forms of immunotherapy that target both the tumor cells and other clinically relevant cells surrounding the tumor, known collectively as the tumor microenvironment.