Public Release: 

Fred Hutch research highlights at AACR Annual Meeting 2016

Presentations range from immunotherapy for pancreas cancer to 'precision prevention' of colorectal cancer

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

SEATTLE AND NEW ORLEANS - Below are brief summaries highlighting several presentations by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans from April 16-20. Each contains a link to the related embargoed Fred Hutch news release. For researcher bios, photos and more, please visit fredhutch.org/media.

Study shows patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma treated with the experimental immunotherapy drug had longer responses than is typical for standard chemotherapy

In a Phase 2 clinical trial of the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab as a first-line systemic therapy for advanced Merkel cell carcinoma, or MCC - a rare, aggressive type of skin cancer - the clinical response rate was similar to that typically seen with standard chemotherapy, but the duration of the response appeared to be markedly longer. There are currently no therapies that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this cancer. Dr. Paul Nghiem, affiliate investigator of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and professor of medicine, Division of Dermatology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, will present these findings at 8:30 a.m. CT April 19 and they will be simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Fred Hutch-based Women's Health Initiative receives AACR Team Science Award

The Women's Health Initiative, a nationwide, federally funded research program coordinated by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has received the 10th annual Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. Fred Hutch biostatisticians Drs. Ross Prentice and Garnet Anderson, leaders of the WHI Clinical Coordinating Center, were on hand to accept the award April 17 during the American Association for Cancer Research 2016 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, on behalf of the WHI program.

Precision prevention of colorectal cancer shows preventing cancer and other diseases may not be 'one size fits all'

Precision medicine's public face is that of disease -- and better treatments for that disease through targeted therapies. But precision medicine has an unsung partner that could affect the lives of many more people: Precision prevention -- a reflection of the growing realization that preventing cancer and other diseases may not be one-size-fits-all.

In work presented at 1 p.m. CDT April 18 at the AACR annual meeting, biostatistician Dr. Li Hsu and epidemiologist Dr. Ulrike "Riki" Peters, both members of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, and colleagues from the University of Michigan and other research groups will debut their latest progress in precision prevention -- an in-the-works method to predict risk of colorectal cancer that integrates genetic, lifestyle and environmental risk factors.

This research is not yet ready to move into clinical practice, but it's the first attempt at combining so many different areas of colorectal cancer risk into one convenient risk predictor.

Engineering T cells to treat pancreatic cancer

Dr. Sunil Hingorani, a member of the Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences divisions at Fred Hutch, will present recent groundbreaking developments in treating pancreas cancer with engineered T cells at the AACR annual meeting at 4:15 p.m. CDT April 16.

Hingorani, a pancreatic cancer specialist, teamed up with Fred Hutch immunotherapy experts Drs. Phil Greenberg and Ingunn Stromnes in successful efforts to breach the cancer's physical and immunological walls using immunotherapy, a type of treatment that harnesses or refines the body's own immune system with Tcells engineered to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Additionally, Hingorani and his team have worked to develop an enzyme that can help defeat the tumor's high interstitial pressures and potentially open the door for greater penetration and effectiveness of T cells and other types of agents. By the end of the year, Hingorani hopes to have the human version of the T cell in clinical trials.

Dr. Philip Greenberg, cancer immunology expert at Fred Hutch, to present on targeting cancer with engineered T cells

Dr. Philip Greenberg, head of immunology and a member of the Clinical Research Division at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a leader in cancer immunology, will describe how he and colleagues are genetically engineering T cells to seek out cancer cells, penetrate their defenses and kill them.

He also will provide a preview of next-generation strategies and upcoming clinical trials for a variety of cancers. The presentation will be from 10:55 to 11:20 a.m. CDT April 20 as part of a symposium on the function of T cells and their therapeutic application in cancer.

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Editor's note: For researcher bios, photos and more, please visit fredhutch.org/media.

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 with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation's first and largest 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. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit fredhutch.org or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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