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Breast Cancer Research Foundation funds 8 Fred Hutch/UW Cancer Consortium scientists

Nearly $2M will go toward potential therapies for metastatic disease and better risk reduction through diet and exercise

Nov. 9, 2018 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Nancy Davidson presents at a Breast Cancer Research Foundation symposium in New York in October 2017.

Dr. Nancy Davidson presents at a Breast Cancer Research Foundation symposium in New York in October 2017.

Photo by Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Eight researchers in the Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium have received grants totaling nearly $2 million from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or BCRF, funding that will continue to fuel their research through 2019. Most of the grants will go toward new therapies for patients with metastatic cancers.

The grants were part of a record-breaking $63 million given out this year to mark BCRF’s 25 years of impact in the breast cancer research field.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists, who each received at least $250,000, include Senior Vice President and Clinical Research Division Director Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, pathologist Dr. Peggy Porter, cancer prevention researcher Dr. Anne McTiernan, and chemoprevention expert Dr. Thomas Kensler. Translational researcher Dr. Cyrus Ghajar, who focuses on disseminated tumor cells and their role in metastatic breast cancer, will collaborate with Davidson on a newly funded project; he also received funds to continue a three-year research award initiated last year.  

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5 questions with a cancer immunotherapy expert

Dr. Phil Greenberg to receive high honor for his contributions to the field

Nov. 7, 2018 | By Susan Keown / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Phil Greenberg is the head of the Program in Immunology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He says scientists are making T cells "see tumors better, kill tumors better and then persist and eradicate tumors better."
Video by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

For more than 40 years, Dr. Phil Greenberg has been working toward a vision: harnessing the power of a patient’s immune system to safely and effectively kill their tumors. When the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientist started his career, the idea was far from mainstream. Now, there’s a Nobel Prize, immunotherapies have become standard of care for several cancers, and a constant flood of new approaches are pouring into clinical trials.

Greenberg is one of the scientists who made that revolution possible.

Years before cancer immunotherapy started showing up on the nightly news, his team provided a bevy of “firsts” that demonstrated the power of immune cells called T cells to target and eradicate disease. Today, their latest innovations are offering new hope in some of the toughest cancers.

In recognition of his expertise and ongoing impact on the field, Greenberg will receive the 2018 Richard V. Smalley, M.D., Memorial Award and Lecture, the highest honor granted by the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer. The organization will grant the award on Saturday in Washington, D.C. at its annual conference.

We caught up with Greenberg before he left for the meeting, asking him five questions about where cancer immunotherapy is now and what is coming on the horizon. The transcript below has been lightly edited for readability.

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Integrative oncology program opens at SCCA

Research and rigor will guide integrative therapies that help cancer patients tolerate standard treatment

Nov. 1, 2018 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

patient getting acupuncture

Acupuncture and other evidence-based integrative therapies will now be offered to cancer patients through SCCA's Integrative Medicine Program.

Photo by Josh Belzman / Fred Hutch News Service

When Yetta Marcus Jaworski was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2009, she decided to try a blended approach to treatment. Along with standard therapies like chemotherapy and radiation, she sought out the traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture to combat her treatment’s side effects.

“I’m a huge fan of acupuncture and massage, which helped with side effects of chemo and radiation,” said the a 57-year-old project manager from Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. “When I was first diagnosed, I had to go to my own acupuncturist, but now I have one that comes to the oncology office.”

Like many cancer patients today, Jaworski doesn’t have a problem using what are often referred to as complementary or integrative therapies to help her tolerate the pain, nausea, fatigue and other toxic effects of standard treatments. She appreciates the integrated approach her cancer center in Florida and others across the country have come to embrace.

This approach to oncology can now be found at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s clinical care partner, with the launch of its new Integrative Medicine Program.

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Metastatic breast cancer research takes the stage

Advocates, oncologists and researchers share findings, resources and reasons for hope at third annual NW Mets Conference

Oct. 31, 2018 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Cyrus Ghajar

Fred Hutch translational researcher Dr. Cyrus Ghajar spoke on disseminating tumor cells, dormancy and the process of metastasis.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

● Patient advocacy is working: Patients are being heard and funding for research is increasing.

● Research is coming at metastatic breast cancer from all sides, including immunotherapy.

● New  metastatic breast cancer "TARGET-CLUSTER" pilot study announced.

The keynote speaker got the flu and the morning sunshine turned to sloppy rain, but hope, health and science continued to shine brightly at the third annual Northwest Metastatic and Lobular Breast Cancer Conference, held Friday and Saturday in Seattle.

Created for patients by patients, the conference was facilitated by funding from Komen Puget Sound and a slew of sponsors, chief among them Amazon Web Services, which hosted more than 300 patients, researchers, caregivers and vendors at its downtown meeting center for the second year in a row. AWS also provided free livestreaming so thousands of patients across the country could virtually attend (links available here, here and here). In addition, there was on-site interpretation and translation for Spanish-speakers, and a side session in Spanish for patients and community health workers was broadcast via the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle’s Facebook page.

How do you combat metastatic breast cancer which, despite all the advances and the "awareness," still kills roughly 41,000 women and men every year? For these conference organizers, it’s by disseminating information, clinical trial opportunities and resources as relentlessly as cancer spreads its deadly seeds.  

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Dr. Matthias Stephan named Allen Distinguished Investigator

The $1.5 million award will help translate cutting-edge nanoparticle immunotherapy approach to the clinic

Oct. 30, 2018 | By Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Matthias Stephan in his laboratory at Fred Hutch.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center immunobioengineer Dr. Matthias Stephan, who is developing the use of immune-cell-programming nanoparticles as a cancer treatment, has been named a 2018 Allen Distinguished Investigator by The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute. He will use the three-year, $1.5 million award to help take the steps necessary to bring the approach to the clinic to treat lymphoma.

“We’re ramping up production and trying to translate this into a therapy for patients.  This is funding that is hard to get from the National Cancer Institute, and that’s the gap that [the Frontiers Group is] trying to fill,” said Stephan, who develops immunotherapeutic applications for nanotechnology and biomaterials in the Clinical Research Division of Fred Hutch.

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Why right now is the time to get your flu shot

Protecting yourself also helps those around you, especially cancer patients vulnerable to influenza

Oct. 24, 2018 | By Sabin Russell / Fred Hutch News Service

Flu shot season

The best time to get a flu shot: "When it is available." Vaccine is readily available now. The CDC recommends getting your shot by the end of October.

Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

It is that time of year again. Flu shot season.

While most of us know that getting a flu shot is a good idea, it is especially important that cancer patients — and their family members — roll up their sleeves for their best shot to ward off influenza.

Now that this year’s vaccine is available, patients can get their vaccine while in clinic, and their loved ones are provided free flu shots when they have an appointment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the clinical care partner of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“We’ve promoted for a long time this idea in our cancer center of giving free flu vaccines to families and caregivers. It’s part of the culture now. If you are a patient here, and you’ve got family members with you, you can get them vaccinated for free,” said Fred Hutch researcher Dr. Steven Pergam, who is also medical director of infection prevention at SCCA.

“The flu is dangerous for everybody. That’s important to remember,” he said. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, last year’s particularly virulent flu killed an estimated 80,000 Americans. Each year, influenza is blamed for up to 650,000 deaths worldwide.

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