Seattle cancer center nets $11.5M for breast cancer research

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The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $11.5 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to lead a five-year, Seattle-based breast cancer research consortium. The goal of the endeavor is to positively impact breast cancer prevention, detection, treatment and care of women who have or are at risk for the disease.

Known as the Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE (Specialized Program in Research Excellence), the initiative will involve 25 investigators at the Hutchinson Center and the University of Washington as well as project consultants from a variety of institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

The consortium’s four scientific projects are:

  1. Predicting mortality and response to therapy – This project will follow a small number of breast cancer patients who have survived at least five years to test the possibility that a cell cycle inhibitor called p27 expression in tumor cells predicts poor prognosis or poor response to anti-estrogen and/or anti-HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) therapies.
  2. Targeted T-cell immunotherapy of breast cancer – This project will evaluate new immunotherapeutic approaches for breast cancer in 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.
  3. Predicting poor prognosis and poor response to systemic therapy – This project aims to better understand the underlying biology of drug-resistant tumors and develop treatments that overcome drug resistance. By using imaging technologies to identify drug-resistant tumors, such patients can be directed toward therapy that is more likely to work in the long term.
  4. Identifying genetic biomarkers that could prevent over- or under-treatment in women with breast cancer – The goal of this project is to identify markers of DNA damage repair as a way to predict outcome in breast cancer and prevent over- or under-treatment of the disease. Candidate biomarkers will be identified from tissue samples taken from a population-based group of approximately 2,000 survivors of invasive breast cancer who are being followed for recurrence and mortality.