Clinical Research Division
From laboratory bench to bedside, the Clinical Research Division works to develop and analyze new treatments for cancers and other diseases. Researchers seek new or improved ways to cure cancer. Foremost among their contributions has been the development of bone marrow transplantation, a technique that is now saving tens of thousands of lives worldwide annually. In 1990, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas (1920-2012), director emeritus of the Clinical Research Division, received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his pioneering work developing this technique.
Through clinical research, Center scientists continue to refine the techniques of transplantation and extend its use. Once exclusively used for treatment of leukemia, lymphomas and similar diseases, bone marrow transplantation is now being successfully applied to a growing number of diseases, including breast, ovarian and kidney cancer, sickle cell disease and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and scleroderma.
Other avenues of research being conducted in the Clinical Research Division include immunotherapy, antibody therapy and cancer vaccines.
Approximately 450 patients from all over the world receive transplants at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance coordinated by researchers from the Center’s Bone Marrow Transplant Program. The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care services of the Hutchinson Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s. A major focus of SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside while providing premier, patient-focused cancer care.
Thousands of other cancer patients will be able to receive similar treatment in their local hospitals as a result of the knowledge shared by Clinical Research Division scientists with physicians around the world. Because of the Center’s training efforts, many hospitals throughout the United States now perform bone marrow transplants.
Scientists in the Center's Clinical Research Division have recorded several "firsts" in cancer research and treatment:
Showing that patients with acute leukemia who have failed chemotherapy can be cured with bone marrow transplantation.
Showing that bone marrow transplantation is the best form of initial therapy for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, a disease that affects approximately 15,000 Americans each year.
Showing that bone marrow transplantation can cure chronic myelogenous leukemia, a disease that is otherwise incurable and affects approximately 3,000 Americans each year.
Developing the first FDA-approved antibody-targeted chemotherapy, making chemotherapy less toxic and more effective.
Pioneering the first antibody-targeted therapy against a marker specific to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, an approach now used to treat thousands of people each year.
Developing a “tumor paint” that will help surgeons see where a tumor begins and ends more precisely by illuminating the cancerous cells. The tumor paint, derived from scorpion venom, was developed in collaboration with researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute.
The high quality of the research conducted in the Center’s Clinical Research Division is matched only by the quality of care provided to patients receiving treatment.
Research in the Clinical Research Division is organized in the following programs: