News Releases

Tip Sheet: A clever way to make an AIDS vaccine; how a common cancer mutation actually drives cancer; and a new process that regulates red blood cell development

SEATTLE – Nov. 6, 2019 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings with links for additional background and media contacts.

Cancer and infectious disease

New trial aims to curb HPV-related cancers in HIV+ women and children
Fred Hutch researchers just received funding from the National Institutes of Health for a five-year collaboration designed to help a population at high risk for cervical and other HPV-related cancers: women and children living with HIV. Through the project, which comes with around $1.8 million each year, researchers will conduct three separate trials in three major Latin American cities: Lima, Peru; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. Many cancers have been linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, including cervical, anal, penile, vulvar and some head and neck cancers. While cervical cancer rates in the U.S. have stayed low for years thanks to screening and an effective HPV vaccine, it remains the fourth-leading cause of cancer and cancer death worldwide.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,, 206.667.7665

HIV/AIDS research

Baiting for B cells: A clever new way to make an AIDS vaccine
Researchers at Fred Hutch have developed a new strategy to counter the frustrating ability of HIV to sidestep vaccines designed to block it. In a pair of papers recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Hutch vaccine researchers explain how they were able to use a tiny chunk of protein as bait to fish for extremely rare white blood cells hidden within ordinary blood. When these rare B cells bind with the bait, they multiply and are not so rare anymore. That’s important, because these B cells are just a few evolutionary steps away from generating — with some nudging from a series of additional injections — the kind of long-lasting immune responses needed for an effective HIV vaccine.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,, 206.667.7665

Healthcare Economics

Fred Hutch issues report on cancer care in Washington state
The Community Cancer Care in Washington State: Quality and Cost Report 2019 measured performance in four areas among 29 clinics by linking health utilization data with cost data from public and private insurers in the state. The report found room for improvement in reducing emergency department visits and hospitalizations during chemotherapy and in providing appropriate end-of-life care. The report is part of a six-year collaboration among patient partners, hospitals and clinics delivering cancer care, health insurance plan administrators, researchers, health quality organizations, policymakers and government leaders led by the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, a research group at Fred Hutch whose mission is to improve cancer care in ways that will reduce the economic and human burden of cancer.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,, 206.667.7665

Public Health Sciences

How a common cancer mutation actually drives cancer — and how to correct it
A new, multicenter study led by researchers at Fred Hutch and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center determined how a single mutation in splicing factor 3b subunit 1 (SF3B1), the most frequently mutated splicing factor gene, drives the formation of many cancers. The findings were published earlier this month in the journal Nature. Dr. Robert Bradley, associate member of Fred Hutch’s Public Health Sciences and Basic Sciences divisions, and Dr. Omar Abdel-Wahab, associate member of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, led the study to discover how SF3B1 gene mutations cause cancer.
Media contact
: Tom Kim,, 206.667.6240

Human Biology

Scientists discover new process shaping red blood cell development
Fred Hutch scientists have discovered a process that regulates the earliest stages of red blood cell development. The findings, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, could shed light on what goes wrong in certain blood cancers and anemias. The team showed for the first time that developing red blood cells use a particular molecular process to ensure that red blood cell-specific proteins are made. Blocking the molecular machinery prevented the normal development of blood cells.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

Age-old arms race points way to new-and-improved antiviral protein
Fred Hutch scientists have recently shown that they could use insights from the ancient tug-of-war between viruses and their hosts to evolve a better antiviral protein in the lab. The work was published last month in the journal PLOS Biology.The findings address fundamental questions about evolution, including whether antiviral genes that adapt against certain viruses become less equipped to deal with new viral challenges.

Media contact: Molly McElroy,, 206.667.6651

October Recognitions

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

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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.