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Fall 2010
Research update from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Climb to Fight
Breast Cancer
The Hutchinson Center
thanks the generous
supporters of the Climb to
Fight Breast Cancer.
o achieve something tremendous,
one must aim for the stars. When
climbing on a clear night, mountaineers
find they’ve done this literally. Others
take a more metaphoric trajectory.
The bold mission of Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center is to end the
suffering and death caused by cancer.
The Hutchinson Center’s confidence
and optimism comes from being the
home to the most dramatic success
story in cancer treatment yet, the bone
marrow transplant. Now, powered by the
most advanced
and a unique
spirit, the Center’s
scientists pursue
the next stellar
advances in
cancer care.
Climbers summiting Mt. Adams in June, 2010
The high-altitude achievements made by
participants in the Climb to Fight Breast
Cancer are helping to propel these
scientific innovations. Funds generated
by the Climb allow Center researchers to
pursue daring new developments in their
quest to detect, cure and even prevent
breast cancer. Your gift of support
could now be contributing to a proof-ofconcept trial of a novel cancer fighting
treatment, the purchase of frontline
instrumentation, or the laboratory work
of an intrepid young researcher.
In this report we highlight two recent
developments, a cutting-edge trial
and a versatile specimen library. Both
were fueled by private funding like that
provided by Climb to Fight Breast Cancer
Enhancing our own
power to heal
Immunotherapy is an exciting new field
in which researchers augment and focus
the power of our own disease-fighting
cells. Two years ago, headlines around
the world reported an unprecedented
achievement: using an approach
called adoptive T-cell therapy, a team
from the Hutchinson Center had put
a patient’s stage IV melanoma into
remission using nothing but cells from
his own immune system. Now Center
scientists are applying their expertise in
immunotherapy to create new hope for
breast cancer patients.
Center immunotherapy researchers
Drs. Stan Riddell and Lupe Salazar
have individually made important
contributions to the field. Now they
are joining forces, combining their
knowledge of adoptive T-cell therapy
and therapeutic vaccines to launch an
exciting new clinical trial.
No other cancer center in the country
is as advanced or sophisticated
as the Hutchinson Center in T-cell
immunotherapy, in part due to Dr.
Riddell’s groundbreaking discoveries. He
and his colleagues extract key cells from
the immune system, called T-cells, from
a patient’s blood. They isolate particular
T-cells with the power to fight cancer
and grow a huge number of them in the
lab. These cancer fighting cells are then
infused back into the patient, where they
seek out and destroy tumors. Recently,
Dr. Riddell discovered the therapeutic
potential of a subset of T-cells, called
central memory T-cells, that seem to
be vital to creating a persistent tumorfighting response. He is now integrating
these memory cells into T-cell therapy
Drawing on some of the same biological
concepts, Dr. Lupe Salazar has been
working with her colleague and mentor,
Dr. Nora Disis, on the development of a
breast cancer vaccine. Unlike vaccines
most people receive at their doctor’s
office, cancer vaccines are being tested
in patients who have already had the
disease, with the goal of preventing
its recurrence. The research team has
had notable success in initial trials with
patients who have advanced breast
cancer, and they are now working to
enhance the vaccine to increase its
effectiveness and durability.
There is evidence that T-cell therapy
and cancer vaccines will work best in
combination. In their new endeavor, Drs.
Riddell and Salazar will combine central
memory-derived T-cell therapy with
the latest version of the breast cancer
vaccine. They expect that the vaccine
will help generate the kind of immune
response that will allow the T-cell
therapy to perform particularly well.
They will also engineer a version of the
patients’ T-cells that are more adept at
fighting cancer cells than what the body
produces on its own.
This groundbreaking, collaborative trial
is the culmination of a decade of work by
each investigator. The trial underscores
the ways in which contributions such as
those made through the Climb to Fight
Breast Cancer can propel us into the
future of cancer care.
Storing clues to
future breast cancer
Laboratory researchers rely on tissue
samples to evaluate new insights. With
the help of private support, the Breast
Specimen Repository and Registry
(BSRR) was developed to ensure that
every laboratory discovery that holds
promise for treating or preventing
breast cancer can be tested using highquality specimens. Each year, the BSRR
team collects and stores hundreds of
new tissue and blood samples from
consenting patients. These specimens
are available to be shared with breast
cancer researchers pursuing new paths
in early detection, vaccine development
and novel breast cancer treatments. For
example, in a landmark breast cancer
trial conducted at the Seattle Cancer
Care Alliance, the Center’s clinical arm,
Dr. Eve Rodler is using BSRR samples
to identify biological characteristics that
could eventually lead to ways to predict
a patient’s best therapeutic options.
Thank you
Whether enhancing precise
investigations to definitively answer
pressing treatment and prevention
questions or launching dramatic new
approaches to stopping cancer in its
tracks, Hutchinson Center scientists
are using your contributions to make
a difference in the fight against breast
cancer. Thank you again for your
generous support of the Center’s
innovative research.
For more infomation about the Center’s
immunotherapy research, visit http://
There are many opportunities for joining
studies at the Center. For details, visit
To learn about the 2011 Climb to Fight
Breast Cancer, visit
Lynn Lippert summited Mt Hood in June, 2010
Tel. 206.667.4399
Mail Stop J5-200, PO Box 19024, Seattle, WA 98109