News Releases

Tip Sheet: A new focus on small cell lung cancer; addressing barriers to clinical trials; and advances in Merkel cell carcinoma

SEATTLE – March. 8, 2019 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research, with links for additional background and media contacts.

Human Biology

A new focus on small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer is the most aggressive and deadly form of lung cancer, yet treatment options for this have remained nearly unchanged for decades. Fred Hutch researcher Dr. David MacPherson is working to understand the biology of the disease to develop more effective, targeted therapies. His recent paper published in the journal Science Signaling, looked at the activity of an LSD1 inhibitor in small cell lung cancer across a panel of PDX models. They found that there were varied responses, from lack of response, to one model which showed a complete tumor regression. The results of this paper show key steps in understanding the pathway that links things happening in the tumor and the response to a targeted drug.
Media contact:, 206.667.2210

Health Disparities and Health Care Economics

Why 3 out of 4 cancer patients don’t participate in clinical trials
New research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that structural and clinical barriers are the biggest reason for low participation in clinical trials. The study looked at 13 studies over 15 years that involved over 8,800 patients. They found that 56 percent of these patients didn’t have a trail available to them at their institution, and nearly 22 percent were deemed ineligible for an available trial. Successful clinical trials eventually lead to new treatments/therapies, but most trials fail to meet their enrollment targets. This study not only highlights the current problems around clinical trials, but it also suggests ways to address them.
Media contact:, 206.667.2210


On immunotherapy trial, long-term survivors of deadly skin cancer point to a hopeful future
A multisite clinical trial has found that two thirds of patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma were on track to survive at least two years after starting the immune-boosting drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The results were published online Feb. 6 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Martin “Mac” Cheever of Fred Hutch, one of the leaders of the trial, said that he was “thrilled” that so many of the trial participants were doing better than what historical data would have predicted. 
Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

Diversity and Inclusion

Stamping out bias with compassion and cartoons
Political cartoonist and performance artist, Vishavjt Singh, also known as “The Sikh Captain America” visited Fred Hutch recently to discuss how to confront biases and celebrate diversity and inclusion. Fred Hutch has several efforts to tackle the issue, from the Summer High School Internship Program which provides students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds an opportunity to explore a career in science, to Hutch United, an organization that fosters a supportive and inclusive scientific community.
Media contact:, 206.667.2210

Clinical Research

CASSINI Trial publishes data on preventing blood clots in cancer patients
New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed the results of the first clinical study to investigate the use of the direct oral anticoagulant, rivaroxaban, to prevent blood clots in patients with cancer at high-risk. The trial, also known as the CASSINI Trial, found no significant reduction in venous thromboembolism or death in the overall 180-day trial period; however, the researchers did observe a lower incidence of these events while patients were actively on the study drug, or during the on-treatment period. The CASSINI Trial presents the first large-scale data on the safety and efficacy of new oral anticoagulants as preventive agents for blood clots in cancer patients.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, 206.667.7365

February Recognitions

Researchers at Fred Hutch are often recognized for their work. We are proud to celebrate their achievements and grateful to the awarding organizations.

Dr. Tijana Martinov named a 2019 Parker Scholar

Dr. Harmit Malik elected fellow of American Academy of Microbiology

Two Hutch postdocs named Damon Runyon-Dale F. Frey Breakthrough Scientists



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