Tip Sheet: Cancer-busting broccoli sprout pills in space, trauma and healing among Indigenous people, how to boost HPV vaccinations

Summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news

SEATTLE — August 3, 2021 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news.

Join us for our next public science event, “Back to the future: Navigating work, school, and well-being in a world transformed by COVID-19.” The virtual discussion will be 11 a.m. -12 p.m. PT on Tuesday, August 10 and will feature Drs. Trevor Bedford, Josh Hill and Alpana Waghmare. Please RSVP HERE by Monday, August 9.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children's and UW Medicine lay groundwork for historic cancer partnership
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s announced plans to explore restructuring their longtime relationship to accelerate a shared mission of advancing diagnosis, treatment and pioneering of cures for cancer and other diseases. The proposed restructure, if finalized and approved, would establish an adult-focused oncology program and, separately, a pediatric oncology program.
Media contact: Shelby Barnes, mrbarnes@fredhutch.org

Cancer research 

Cancer-busting broccoli sprout pills? It's a thing.
Translational scientist Dr. Thomas Kensler has been on a quest to find a way to exploit the powerful cancer-inhibiting process that’s triggered when you eat cruciferous vegetables. His ‘green chemoprevention’ research extends from eastern China to Seattle and now, into space.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Overlooked stretches of DNA could hide cancer-causing mutations
A new cutting-edge technique sheds light on difficult-to-study DNA regions and potential drug targets. Scientists at Fred Hutch have shown that the often-overlooked regions that flank our genes harbor mutations that can disrupt normal protein production and influence tumor spread and response to treatment. This new work reveals an unappreciated aspect of cancer biology and could become the focus of future drug discovery efforts.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Health disparities

Cancer Health Equity Now: Grief, intergenerational trauma and healing among Indigenous people
A new podcast episode from Fred Hutch’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement focuses on the impacts of unresolved grief and intergenerational trauma and its impacts on the health of Indigenous people. Ursula Tsosie, Program Manager and Tribal Liaison for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, spoke with Leona Swamp, of the Wolf Clan from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. Swamp is the Executive Director of Aseshate:Ka'te Grief Services, a nonprofit focused on helping Indigenous people process their grief in a safe and supportive environment, while also incorporating traditional teachings.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Income and health-related quality of life in colorectal cancer survivors
A new study out of the Fred Hutch Division of Public Health Science’s Newcomb Group followed colorectal patients to better stand their quality life after diagnosis. Early detection and effective treatments accounted for increased survival rates among colorectal cancer survivors. Yet survivors with a favorable prognosis may endure poor qualities of health because of the physical, psychosocial, and financial strain of a colorectal diagnosis, especially if there is a reappearance of colorectal cancer.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org


Uganda hospitals receive much-needed COVID-19 supplies from Seattle area
As vaccination rates reached 70% of adults in Washington state, a half-ton of hospital supplies from Fred Hutch were air-shipped to Uganda, where COVID-19 is raging. Vaccines aren’t widely available in Uganda, and many patients being treated for cancer at UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre in Kampala have active coronavirus infections. This shipment of more than 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment will help protect health care workers and staff as they manage patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

How studies of coronavirus immunity can inform better vaccines, treatments
The novel coronavirus is here to stay — that much we know. There’s still a lot we need to find out. How often will vaccines need to be updated? How often will we need to get boosters? We have the power to shape the answers to these questions through the strategies we use to develop vaccines and immunotherapies against the COVID-19 virus. Scientists are looking for broad-acting antibodies that could protect against new variants of SARS-CoV-2 — and maybe a future SARS-3.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Deleted SARS-CoV-2 sequences from early in Wuhan outbreak offer clues
Evolutionary biologist Dr. Jesse Bloom discussed how he found SARS-CoV-2 sequences from early in the Wuhan outbreak and why it’s important to keep piecing together information on how the pandemic began.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Latest Fred Hutch research on COVID-19
In this latest recap of recent COVID-19 news, a study published on July 29 in JAMA Network Open reported on enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic to cancer clinical trials run by the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a cancer clinical trials group funded by the National Cancer Institute. Led by Dr. Joseph Unger, a biostatistician based at Fred Hutch, the researchers found that during the early weeks of the pandemic, from late February through mid-April 2020, overall registrations to cancer clinical trials dropped precipitously compared to previous years.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Vaccine and infectious disease

New study finds many cancer patients have no antibodies to measles or mumps
To find out how much protection cancer patients have against measles and mumps, physician-scientist Dr. Steve Pergam and biostatistician Elizabeth Krantz led a project in 2019 to assess the levels of antibody protection against those viruses in that population. Pergam and his colleagues know that measles is far more contagious than SARS-CoV-2, and should an outbreak occur it would pose a serious threat to cancer patients. The study found that one in four cancer patients tested lacked protective antibodies for measles, and it was more than one in three for mumps.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

The challenge of HPV vaccine series completion
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause the vast majority of cervical cancers and are associated with six cancers. Since 2006, a highly effective and safe vaccine that prevents both infections with oncogenic HPV types and HPV-associated cancers has been available in the United States in a multi-dose regime that varies by age. Yet, in 2019, only 54.2% of adolescents had up-to-date HPV vaccination. A new study from Fred Hutch in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute suggests that greater communication and awareness is needed to encourage people to complete the series. 
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Basic sciences

Good Fat, bad fat, gut fat, gonad fat
In a new paper, the Priess Lab examined an unusual form of fat storage within our bodies. Even in fit and healthy people, fat is found nearly everywhere. It sits under our skin, around our internal organs, even in the cytoplasm of our cells in the form of lipid droplets. One place that has not classically been considered to contain fat, though, is the cell’s nucleus. To better understand this unexpected phenomenon, the study looked at nuclear fat in a nematode.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Other notable news

Heart of the Hutch series: Global collaborators and dedicated supporters

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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 and the COVID-19 Prevention Network.