Hutchinson Center Heroes
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation provided a generous three-year $5 million award beginning in 2005 to support pilot studies for the discovery of molecules in the bloodstream that may detect cancer in its preliminary stages. Early detection is a critical tool in successful cancer treatment. The survival rate for breast and prostate cancer patients with localized, early stage disease is 85 to 95 percent five years after treatment, and remains high at 10 years. However, when the disease has not been discovered in time to prevent its spread to distant organs, this five-year survival rate decreases to merely 22 percent. The Cancer Biomarker Discovery and Validation Project aims to identify proteins in the bloodstream that are associated with cancer and act as "biomarkers" of the disease. Using models of breast and prostate cancers, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center investigators hope to identify new biomarker proteins and test the hypothesis that they can predict the presence of nascent tumors with high accuracy.
As part of the project, Hutchinson Center researchers are developing rapid, high-volume analytical techniques to investigate the enormous number of proteins that circulate in the bloodstream. Cancer cells have protein compositions that are distinct from those of healthy cells, and our researchers will look for proteins associated with cancer in the bloodstream. The "proteomic" approaches pioneered as a result of this gift will be used to discover and analyze novel biomarker proteins. These molecules may one day form the basis of a simple diagnostic blood test that will reveal cancer risk or diagnosis, leading to the earliest possible intervention or treatment to prevent the development or spread of tumors.
The Cancer Biomarker Discovery and Validation Project is one example of the ongoing partnership between the Hutchinson Center and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to pursue predictive approaches to reduce the instance of cancers. In 2003, a gift of $2 million launched the Center's Early Detection and Intervention Initiative, a program dedicated to the discovery of the most effective ways to find and treat cancer at its earliest stages. The Foundation's major support for the Center began in 1996 with a $2 million capital contribution for completion of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division building.
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation seeks to apply new ideas and information to complex regional and global challenges by supporting promising research and new technology development that have the potential to expand knowledge, improve health, and protect the environment.