News Releases

Tip Sheet: SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, COVID-19 and health disparities, eating in tough times and immune protection in breast milk

SEATTLE – July 7, 2020 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news with links for additional background and media contacts.

COVID-19

Scientists ponder human challenge trials for COVID-19 vaccines
Thousands of volunteers from around the world are willing to be exposed to live COVID-19 virus to test whether vaccines might work. No such trials are planned in the U.S. yet, but researchers and bioethicists say such trials have worked before and might be tried once the risks are better understood.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Experts share insights on coronavirus vaccines at Fred Hutch virtual event
In a webinar, Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Tom Lynch interviewed former Hutch president Dr. Larry Corey and Dr. John Mascola, director of the federal Vaccine Research Center, about their work at the center of efforts to speed the development of coronavirus vaccines.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

COVID-19 and cancer expose society’s health care gaps
Fred Hutch public health scientists have been working to disrupt preventable health disparities in cancer and other diseases for decades. Now they’re using their expertise to protect vulnerable communities dealing with the very disparate spread of COVID-19.  
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Antibodies a hot topic in COVID-19 research
When the pandemic struck, dozens of scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center set their existing work aside and began applying their antibody-wrangling skills. Experience with other viruses is guiding efforts to develop new tests, treatments and assays to counter SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

What happens if the coronavirus’s spikes mutate?
In a first of its kinds study, scientists led by virologist Dr. Jesse Bloom did a deep mutational scan of the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2, the area that binds to the ACE2 receptor in human cells and allows the virus inside. The work could have implications for vaccine design and understanding how the virus could evolve to escape immunity.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Eating ‘the rainbow’ and other food tips for uncertain times
Stress-eating an entire loaf of garlic cheese bread may give you comfort but it won't do much for your immune system. We turned to Fred Hutch experts for practical tips on how to eat during the current pandemic — or any time of upheaval — without losing any of the important nutrients needed to fight disease or prevent gaining weight.
Media contact: Tom Kim, tomkim@fredhutch.org


Infectious disease

Antibody blocks Epstein-Barr virus in preclinical trial
Fred Hutch researcher Dr. Andy McGuire and his team have shown that an antibody isolated from patients blocked the Epstein-Barr virus in preclinical studies, which is good news for a vaccine. EBV causes mononucleosis and is responsible for Burkitt lymphoma and a wide range of cancers and immune disorders globally.

Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org


Clinical oncology and cancer prevention

Making clinical trial information more accessible
Dr. Heather Cheng recently won a Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute to focus on translating clinical trial information in new ways, to help patients identify potential opportunities to participate in trials.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Immunotherapy trial in advanced bladder and other urinary tract cancers shows 'exciting' results
Results from a large trial of the immunotherapy drug avelumab for patients with advanced urothelial cancer could change how cancers of the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract are treated.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Building genetic diversity into cancer research
With a $3.5 million award from the National Cancer Institute, Fred Hutch researchers are launching an ambitious effort to build more equity into cancer risk prediction. Their aim: creating and disseminating colorectal cancer risk-prediction models — also known polygenic risk scores — for the multiethnic populations that need them.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org


Cell biology

In cancer, the context 'makes' the mutation
Hutch scientists discover how a gene can both drive and inhibit cancer in preclinical models of small-cell lung cancer.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

New open source software empowers scientists to uncover immune secrets
Cancer is maddeningly complex, and its interplay with the immune system involves a huge cast of cells and much chemical chatter. Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center want to make studying that complex network significantly easier and cheaper.
Media contact: Tom Kim, tomkim@fredhutch.org

Mutated skin stem cells self-correct to prevent cancer
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shed light on why inherited cancer-driving mutations don't always lead to cancer. In new work in mice, they show that skin stem cells that share a tissue-wide mutation restrain tumor development by balancing mutation-driven skin cell overgrowth with a reduced rate of skin stem cell renewal.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org


Basic sciences

Discovering new strategies used in arms race between bacteria and the viruses that infect them
Hutch postdoctoral fellow Dr. Kevin Forsberg was approved for a NIAID New Innovators Award to study how bacteria have evolved to prevent viral infection, and viruses have evolved to overcome bacterial defenses. The work could have implications for new antimicrobials and manipulating the microbiome to improve health.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Pudgy middle age: Does a little fat have an upside?
Scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studying cellular aging in yeast have discovered that a little extra fat could protect against stress.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Studying how maternal immune factors shape infant health
Immunologist Dr. Meghan Koch has been named a 2020 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences. Her research examines how maternal immune factors in breast milk influence infant microbiome, immune development and health.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org


Other notable news

Mourning Dr. Supriya 'Shoop' Saha, rising star in liver cancer research

An update on our efforts to change

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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.