Early detection research awarded $9.7 million to develop biomarkers

The National Cancer Institute has awarded Fred Hutchinson $9.7 million to lead a research consortium dedicated to developing simple blood tests to detect the earliest signs of cancer and other diseases so they can be treated as early as possible, when cure rates are highest.

Drs. Martin McIntosh, principal investigator, and Amanda Paulovich, co-principal investigator, will lead the consortium. Dr. Christopher Kemp will serve as project co-investigator. Collaborating institutions include the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Richland, Wash., and the Plasma Proteome Institute in Washington, D.C.

The strong history of collaboration among the participating institutions and researchers — all major contributors to the field of biomarker discovery — was key to getting the grant, McIntosh said. "All of the institutions involved are international leaders in the rapidly advancing field of proteomics, which attempts to catalog and describe the function of all of the proteins made by a cell or organism," he said. "Together we aim to create a platform for biomarker discovery and analysis that could be used by collaborators around the world."

The first year of the grant will be devoted to developing and refining the technology needed to compare approaches for discovering new biomarkers and making sure they are reliable and accurate. The second year will focus on testing the technology's ability to detect biomarkers associated with several different models of human cancer.

The award is a key part of Fred Hutchinson's Early Detection and Intervention Initiative launched last year with private funding, including large gifts from the Listwin Family Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation, The Moyer Foundation, and contributors to the Hutch Holiday Gala.

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