News Releases

Tip Sheet: Tracking COVID-19, protein design, TB vaccines, a new brain map and more

SEATTLE – April 2, 2020 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings with links for additional background and media contacts.


Hutch Science: COVID-19
Our COVID-19 overview page highlights Fred Hutch scientific efforts and the center’s response to the global pandemic. We encourage you to join infectious disease expert Dr. Steven Pergam on Facebook Friday April 3, from 11 a.m.-noon PT. He’ll be taking questions and talking about COVID-19.
Media contact:

Translational science / protein design
Self-assembling donut-shaped protein platform for development of new biomolecules
Fred Hutch scientists designed a donut-shaped protein scaffold that can carry different cargoes. It offers several advantages over other molecular tools currently used in research and clinical operations, such as cell-therapy manufacturing. The discovery was published March 23 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Inside scorpion venom: a future Rx for arthritis?
A preclinical study published March 4 in Science Translational Medicine showed that tiny, scorpion-derived proteins can deliver arthritis drugs directly to joints. The approach could help avoid side effects caused by nontargeted treatment.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Infectious disease
Study points toward progress on TB vaccines
While there is no truly effective vaccine for tuberculosis, the best one available protects mostly children and is more than 100 years old. An international effort involving researchers at the Hutch is trying to improve that. An analysis published March 16 in EClinicalMedicine, an open-access journal run by The Lancet, explored what happens when young South Africans were revaccinated 12-17 years after they were immunized against TB as infants.
Media contact: Claire Hudson,

Basic sciences

A new guidebook to the brain
Fred Hutch scientists combined existing brain-mapping techniques to simultaneously map neural connections and also the molecular signals they use to communicate with each other. They’re using the approach to understand how molecules mediate responses to stress, which could help inform future therapies that blunt the negative effects of stress. The insights were published Feb. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Precision medicine

A breast tumor might have thousands of mutations. Which are important?
By the time a tumor is detected, it’s riddled with genetic mutations but it’s hard to tell which are driving its development and which are just along for the ride. A study published Feb. 13 in Cell Stem Cell described a new method to screen breast cancer-associated mutations for their functional consequences. These insights could help inform precision-medicine efforts aimed at discovering new treatment targets.
Media contact: Molly McElroy,

Other notable news


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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.