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Tip Sheet: How to diversify vaccine clinical trials, 30 years of science education, Trevor Noah talks to Hutch scientists — and more

Summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news

SEATTLE — Nov. 2, 2021 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news.

Join us for our next public science event, “Science Says” on Nov. 30. Trevor Noah, comedian and host of "The Daily Show," will chat with three Hutch researchers studying cancer and COVID-19: Drs. Trevor Bedford, Phil Greenberg and Rachel Issaka. Please RSVP HERE by Tuesday, Nov. 23.

COVID-19

Latest Fred Hutch research on COVID-19 If you’re interested in learning more or covering this research, contact: media@fredhutch.org

  • With collaborators at Northeastern University, Dr. Elizabeth Halloran published a new computer modeling paper in Nature that looks at early worldwide spread of COVID-19. 

  • Researchers from Dr. Jesse Bloom’s lab are revealing how different coronavirus variants shift antibody responses in a new bioRxiv preprint.

Community engagement ensures equitable inclusion in vaccine trials
A team of research experts from the COVID-19 Prevention Network, which is based at Fred Hutch, have demonstrated that through robust community engagement, equitable inclusion in vaccine clinical trials can make a powerful impact in the health of BIPOC communities. Their new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, offers experience and guidance in including BIPOC communities in infectious disease research as a critical component in efforts to increase vaccine confidence, acceptability and uptake of future vaccines.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Monoclonal antibody treatment highly effective at reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations
Researchers published interim results in The New England Journal of Medicine from a Phase 3 study of the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment sotrovimab, sponsored by Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline. The study found that compared to the placebo group, COVID-19 patients who received sotrovimab had a significantly reduced risk of hospitalization or death and that the treatment, which was administered by intravenous infusion on an outpatient basis, was safe.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Science education

Lessons from the lab have a long reach
As Fred Hutch’s Science Education Partnership celebrates its 30th anniversary, we profile one of the recent participants of the program. Every summer, teachers work on hands-on projects in Fred Hutch labs and learn how to bring these skills into the classroom. Teachers then have access to Fred Hutch science kits for their classrooms, allowing an estimated 15,000 students every year to learn how scientific techniques can be used to address real-world problems.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Basic sciences

'Blobology' no more

Get up to speed on cryo-EM microscopy, a technology that is improving our ability to see biological molecules more clearly. The Hutch recently installed a $4 million cryo-EM facility, led by  Dr. Melody Campbell. She’s working with Fred Hutch researchers to use flash-frozen specimens to generate 3D images of the structures of proteins and visualize their moving parts and how the proteins interact with each other. Cancer researchers are especially interested in proteins called integrins, as they may play a role in suppressing or promoting tumor development.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Immunology

Scientists boost immune function in mice by mimicking natural renewal processes
In a new paper published in Cell, Drs. Jarrod Dudakov and Sinead Kinsella identify a molecular switch that triggers regeneration of the thymus after damage and show that an experimental compound that mimics this switch can boost immune function. The thymus is an organ that supports the development of immune cells known as T cells. Treatments such as chemotherapy wipe out T cells, and leave patients vulnerable to infection as they wait for their immune systems to bounce back. T cell-boosting treatments could also make vaccines more effective and improve cancer immunotherapies.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Cancer research

Liver cancer researcher Dr. Abir Arfaoui named latest Brave Fellow
Dr. Abri Arfaoul, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Taran Gujral’s lab was announced as the second recipient of the Brave Fellowship at Fred Hutch. Funded by the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, the fellowship honors professional runner Gabe Grunewald who passed away from a rare cancer two years ago. Arfaoul will use the fellowship to fund her research on a rare liver cancer called fibrolamellar carcinoma.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Science Says: Cracking the code in solid tumors
A recent panel of Fred Hutch experts in lung, breast and stomach solid tumors discussed the challenge of treating solid tumors and strategies on the horizon to treat them. Dr. Nancy Davidson shared that genetic profiling is helping research more accurately pinpoint and target the drivers behind breast cancer, while Dr. McGarry Houghton noted that immune checkpoint inhibitors have been a revolutionary advance for lung cancer but challenges remain in getting them to work for more patients.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Science spotlight
Science Spotlight is a monthly installment of articles written by postdoctoral fellows at Fred Hutch that summarize new research papers from Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact: media@fredhutch.org

Awards and other notable news

Building better lab models of human tumors
Prostate cancer physician and researcher Dr. John Lee received a 5-year $1.5 million National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award to fund his breakthrough approach on improving tumor models to better capture their complex biology. The grant will allow his team to create a set of prostate cancer models that better mimic existing subsets of human tumors and probe different steps governing prostate cancer progression.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Holland receives NCI Outstanding Investigator Award
Neuroscientist Dr. Eric Holland received a 7-year $7 million National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award to study mutations and how they cause cancer. Though his work focuses on brain cancer, Holland hopes to gain a wider view of how cancer develops and progresses. He also aims to pinpoint new treatment strategies by studying specific genes that have been mutated in distinct ways in tumors.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

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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.