News Releases

Life Sciences Discovery Fund awards $2.2 million to support new solid-tumor research program

SEATTLE — April 17, 2008 — The state's Life Sciences Discovery fund has awarded $2.2 million to establish a formal phase 1 clinical-trials program to test new therapies for solid tumors through a collaborative effort of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. Announced this evening, the grant is among the first funded by Washington's $350 million tobacco-lawsuit-settlement bonus.

Developing novel therapies targeted to treat solid tumors, in collaboration with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, is the goal of the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium phase 1 clinical trials program. Phase 1 trials are by definition the first testing of cancer therapies in humans. The purpose is to determine whether and how a drug works. Traditionally, phase 1 studies have been primarily concerned with drug safety. However, with the increased knowledge of the molecular pathways involved in cancer development, an ever-increasing proportion of drugs initially tested in humans prove to be effective, even in the first patients treated.

"Phase 1 trials are critically important, require a high level of unique competencies and, if done correctly, can substantially speed the development of new therapies," said Martin (Mac) Cheever, M.D., director of solid-tumor research at the Hutchinson Center. "This is an outcome that can benefit the state's patients, industry and health care enterprises."

Initially, the program will use the funding to develop a highly efficient infrastructure for implementing early phase — primarily industry sponsored — cancer clinical trials, and to provide exploratory funds that will allow Consortium researchers to apply their expertise in cancer imaging and biomarkers to cancer drug development.

The program will be led by John Thompson, M.D., as director of the Consortium phase 1 program. Thompson will be responsible for scientific direction and facilitating new industry and other trial sponsorships.

"Standard therapy for cancer is clearly inadequate," Cheever said. "The best hope is the development of new targeted therapies. Thanks to ever-advancing technologies and expanding basic knowledge of cancer biology — areas of exceptional strength in the consortium — the opportunities for developing new therapies targeted to cancer cells have never been greater."

Media Contact
Dean Forbes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 605-0311
dforbes@fhcrc.org

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.

Life Sciences Discovery Fund
The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington State agency established in May 2005, makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research to benefit Washington and its citizens. For more information on the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, visit: www.lsdfa.org.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.