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$11.5M NCI Award to Fund Hutchinson-led Consortium's Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will lead a five-year, Seattle-based research consortium focused on preventing, detecting, and treating breast cancer, using an $11.5 million award from the National Cancer Institute.

The Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE, or Specialized Program in Research Excellence, will be co-led by two principal investigators: Peggy Porter, a member of the Hutchinson Center's human biology division; and Martin (Mac) Cheever, a member of the Hutch's clinical research division. Porter and Cheever are two of 25 investigators at the Hutchinson Center and the University of Washington who will be involved in the consortium, as well as project consultants from other institutions in and outside of the US.

Porter and James Roberts, a member of the Hutchinson Center's basic sciences division, will co-lead a project designed to test whether a poor prognosis or a poor response to anti-estrogen and/or anti-HER2 therapies can be predicted from expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p27 in tumor cells. The project will follow a group that has survived breast cancer for at least five years, with the goal of developing targeted therapies against tumors, according to the Hutch.

Amanda Paulovich, an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's clinical research division, and Kathleen Malone, a member of the Hutch's health sciences division, will co-lead a project designed to identify candidate genetic biomarkers from tissue samples taken from about 2,000 invasive breast cancer survivors now being followed for recurrence of the disease and mortality. The project's goal is to identify biomarkers of DNA damage than can predict the outcome of breast cancer in patients and prevent over- or under-treatment of the disease, the Hutch said.

Two additional projects are being funded as part of the NCI award to the consortium: a phase 1 clinical trial in which cells of the immune system will be isolated and programmed to target and kill breast cancer cells and then transferred back to the patient, and a project that will use PET to measure glucose metabolism and MRI to measure blood flow in patients with locally-advanced breast tumors, in order to identify drug-resistant tumors and direct patients to therapies more likely to work.

The Seattle consortium is one of several SPOREs created since Congress established the program in 1992, with the goal of speeding up testing of new methods aimed at preventing, detecting, and treating a variety of cancers.

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