Tip Sheet: The role of necrotic tumor cores in metastatic spread, why rural health policy matters — and a lifetime achievement award

SEATTLE — March 2, 2023 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center research findings and other news.

And, if you’re looking for resources for March’s awareness months, please take a look at our program pages for summaries of our offerings and lists of providers and experts: Colorectal Cancer, Kidney Cancer and Multiple Myeloma

Cancer research

Dead to me? Insights into a tumor’s necrotic core
A tumor’s necrotic core contains factors that appear to promote metastasis, or the seeding of cancer cells throughout the body, according to a new study in rats by Ami Yamamoto in the lab of Dr. Kevin Cheung. The researchers hope their findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead to a better understanding of how to cure or prevent metastatic, or stage 4 cancers, which are treatable but not curable. Read more in a Twitter thread by first author @AmiaDrYet.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

How blood cancer research might help organ transplant patients
Dr. Joshua Hill’s new study in the American Journal of Transplantation suggests that plasma cells, left untouched by common B-cell depleting therapies, may be contributing to organ rejection in highly sensitized patients. The paper proposes that sensitized kidney transplant recipients might be helped by therapies that strip hidden pools of long-lasting plasma cells from the immune system.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Struggle between sex chromosomes underlies evolutionary paradox
New work in fruit flies from scientists in Dr. Harmit Malik’s lab finds that an arms race between sex chromosomes, each jockeying to pass itself to the next generation, lies behind the unexpectedly fast evolution of genes involved with sperm DNA packaging. The findings, published in eLife, may offer insights into human health. These genes, which should only be functional during sperm development, are sometimes turned on in tumors. Read more in a Twitter thread by first author @ChingHoChang.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Health equity

Health Equity: Rural Health Policy in Washington state
In the latest podcast episode of Health Equity Now, Fred Hutch’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement joined Jeff Ketchel, executive director of Washington State Public Health Association, to discuss how rural health policy impacts our public health landscape and why it is important to include diverse voices in policy discussions.    
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

News tips via social
A round up of what our experts are sharing on social media. Contact  media@fredhutch.org for more information.

  • In a JCI Insight paper, work led by Dr. Michael Haffner shows new understanding on the expression patterns and regulation of prostate-specific membrane antigen, an important target in prostate cancer. On Twitter, Fred Hutch’s Dr. Petros Grivas called the study “nice work that may lead to trial design!” 
  • Fred Hutch’s Science Education Program shared their training course, “Race, Racism, and Genetics” for high school teachers.
  • Dr. Rachel Issaka shared resources on Twitter for March’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. 

Awards and other achievements

Dr. Fred Appelbaum receives Lifetime Achievement Award
A key member of the team that developed bone marrow transplantation as a successful treatment for leukemia nearly half a century ago, Dr. Frederick Appelbaum, was honored on Feb. 18 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. In the course of his career, he has witnessed a transplant procedure once performed by him and just a handful of Seattle physicians win widespread acceptance and international acclaim.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Fred Hutch announces 2023 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recipients
Fred Hutch announced 12 recipients of the 2023 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, which recognizes exceptional achievement in graduate studies in the biological sciences. This year’s recipients come from universities around the U.S. and study a range of topics, such as how the sense of smell develops, new technologies for gene editing, stem cell and machine learning approaches to human heart development and the molecules underlying tissue inflammation.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Six researchers receive $3.5 million in grants from Kuni Foundation
A group of researchers at Fred Hutch have received nearly $3.5 million in grants from the Kuni Foundation. The proposed projects include evaluations of circulating tumor DNA, as a biomarker for Merkel cell carcinoma, development of a therapeutic antibody to eradicate metastatic breast cancer and use of multiomics and artificial intelligence to design personalized meningioma therapy.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Fred Hutch blood and marrow transplant program recognized nationally for patient survival outcomes
The Fred Hutch Blood and Marrow Transplant Program has been recognized in an annual data report from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) as exceeding expectations for one-year survival rates in patients who have received allogeneic transplants of blood-forming stem cells from healthy donors. 
Media contact: Heather Platisha, hplatisha@fredhutch.org

Striving for the summit of Kilimanjaro
A team of biotech leaders and Fred Hutch researchers climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as part of Climb to Fight Cancer. The group raised $1 million to fuel scientific discovery at Fred Hutch. Launched in 1997, the program has raised more than $13 million for research including efforts to advance immunotherapy, integrate data and science and reduce health disparities.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@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 Fred Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact: media@fredhutch.org

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center unites comprehensive care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options and accelerate discoveries that prevent, treat and defeat cancer and infectious diseases worldwide.

Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch is an independent, nonprofit organization and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington. We have earned a global reputation for our track record of discoveries in cancer, infectious disease and basic research, including important advances in bone marrow transplantation, HIV/AIDS prevention, immunotherapy and COVID-19 vaccines. Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services and has network affiliations with hospitals in four states. Fred Hutch also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.

Please note that our organization was renamed Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in April 2022, following the merger of long-time partners, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.