News Releases

Tip Sheet: New paths to malaria prevention; proteins involved in muscular dystrophy; pathogen-associated cancers; lung cancer in women who never smoked; financial impact of cancer care; more

SEATTLE – April 3, 2018 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research, with links for additional background and media contacts.

Infectious Disease

Fred Hutch and NIH researchers lead study finding possible new paths to malaria prevention
Scientists have discovered a human antibody that, when tested in mice, prevented malaria infection by binding a specific portion of a surface protein found in almost all strains of the malaria parasite worldwide. The paired findings — of both the antibody and the site it targets on the surface protein — could open new pathways to malaria prevention. The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, was led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health and Fred Hutch.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,, 206.667.7365


Study uncovers new proteins involved in regulating muscular dystrophy-linked gene
A study led by biologist Dr. Stephen Tapscott and staff scientist Dr. Amy Campbell, published in the journal eLife, revealed new players in the pathway of the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, or FSHD, is caused by an uncommon quirk of DNA, which switches on a gene that should be off. Using advanced proteomics techniques, the researchers identified two groups of proteins involved in the switching error and one protein that appears to influence them, making this a potential new therapeutic target.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

Genomics and Cancer

‘Functional genomics’ identifies susceptibilities in cancer cells
The National Cancer Institute has provided $7 million in grants to cancer researcher Dr. Christopher Kemp and colleagues to advance their work in cancer genomics to identify cancerous cells’ susceptibilities and potential drug targets. Their approach, termed functional genomics, melds the descriptive information found in a tumor’s genetic profile with functional information from high-throughput screening of tumor cells.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

Prostate, Lung, Cervical and Colorectal Cancers

Finasteride can reduce prostate cancer risk long term
A study led by Fred Hutch biostatistician Dr. Joe Unger and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports that finasteride, a drug used to treat enlarged prostate or hair loss in men, may have a long-term protective effect against prostate cancer. The study linked data from a large prostate cancer clinical trial with Medicare claims data to determine that the steroid tablet, also known as Proscar or Propecia, could protect men from developing the cancer for up to 16 years.
Media contact: Sandy Van,, 808.526.1708

Building a better roadmap for precision colorectal cancer screening
Current colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommend people at average risk get a colonoscopy or other test starting at age 50, but Fred Hutch epidemiologist Dr. Ulrike “Riki” Peters and biostatistician Dr. Li Hsu are leading studies to develop precision guidelines based on an individual’s environmental, lifestyle and genetic risks. An article on the first step was published in Gastroenterology.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,, 206.667.7365

Solving the puzzle of lung tumors in women who never smoked
Dr. Alice Berger, a translational researcher at Fred Hutch, has received a $200,000, two-year award — the Lori Monroe Scholarship for Lung Cancer Research — to advance her scientific focus on the genetics of lung cancer in women who have never smoked. She will use the scholarship to perform genome sequencing on lung tumors found in women with no history of smoking.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

Cancer and Financial Toxicity

Fred Hutch president addresses rising costs of cancer care
An independent advisory group, the President’s Cancer Panel, issued recommendations on cost and other issues of cancer care. “We’re not just racing to find cures, we’re racing to find ways to lower the cost of cures, and support innovative ideas like value-based pricing to make health care more affordable to all,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, Fred Hutch president and director, who served as a co-chair for the series of workshops that informed the recommendations.
Media contact: Shelby Barnes,, 206.667.1455

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