Page header
Research

Overview

Every advance in cancer treatment in recent years has come out of clinical trials — and the physician-scientists at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have led the way for decades.

Researchers work behind the scenes at Fred Hutch to develop new, more effective ways to target cancer cells with fewer side effects. The next great breakthroughs are already underway in their labs. 

Together with SCCA physicians, these innovators translate the most promising options into therapies that our patients receive in clinic. In fact, some of the people providing your day-to-day care may be the same ones leading studies to revolutionize treatment.

That’s what our alliance is all about: uniting bold, inventive science with compassionate, world-class care.

A half-century of progress 

Today, Hutch researchers and SCCA physicians are tackling more than 40 diseases from every angle to transform prevention, detection and treatment. Among their many noteworthy successes is bone marrow transplant. 

Pioneered at the Hutch in the 1970s, a donor transplant rescues a patient’s immune system after intense chemotherapy or radiation therapy while fighting the cancer cells that survived. Early transplant research done by Fred Hutch scientists provided the first proof that immune cells already in our bodies, called T cells, have the power to kill cancer. 
 

“Looking back at everything we’ve accomplished in the last five decades, I’m actually not really surprised at where we are now. It was 50 years of systematic experiments to move the field forward.”
— Rainer Storb, MD, Head of Transplantation Biology Program, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch

Since then, Hutch researchers have refined transplantation. They’ve developed better regimens, expanded the pool of people who can have a transplant and worked tirelessly to resolve challenges like graft-versus-host disease. At the same time, they’ve ushered in a new era in which immunotherapies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapies, are shifting how we think of cancer treatment. 

Learn More About Immunotherapy 

Getting breakthroughs to the people who need them

Groundbreaking advances like immunotherapies move “from bench to bedside” — from the labs where they’re developed to the treatment rooms where patients receive them — through a series of studies called clinical trials. These studies test for safety and efficacy, or how effective the treatment is. Often, they compare a new approach to the current standard of care.

At SCCA, we offer you the option to take part in clinical trials that match your specific needs. We have trials for dozens of cancers at every stage as well as many noncancerous blood disorders. Along with investigating new potential treatments, we’re exploring better ways to detect and prevent disease and enhance quality of life for everyone in our care.
 

“The clinical trial allowed me to continue my work. Being able to take a pill with minimal side effects that put me in partial remission is amazing. I am just so grateful it was an option.”
— Bob Ekblad, SCCA patient

Treatment studies give you the chance to be among the first to benefit from a new therapy. This is especially important for patients who have tried every existing option and need something else. For them, our Phase 1 Program offers hope and the knowledge that they are helping future patients. Phase 1 clinical trials are early studies testing new therapies in people for the first time.

Clinical trials
Clinical trials

SCCA has one of the most active clinical trial programs in the world - providing new hope for our patients every day. The goal of clinical trials is to increase our knowledge about diseases and to develop safer, more effective treatments.

Phase 1 Program
Phase 1 Program

SCCA provides the first academic-based Phase 1 program for cancer research in the Pacific Northwest. The Phase 1 Program provides a full range of research services to advance the development, implementation and successful completion of clinical trials.

Research stories

Our scientists and physicians are driven by a commitment to eliminate cancer and ensure every patient thrives. Here are a few examples of what we’re doing to turn promise into reality.

Landmark scientific paper turns 40
Scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center kickstarted the now-hot field of immunotherapy in 1979. Their early findings on bone marrow transplantation, a radical procedure at the time, proved that our immune systems are more capable than anyone knew.

Read Full Story

Mystery solved: How graft-versus-host disease starts in the gut
Complications of treatment pose a serious threat to bone marrow transplant recipients. Dogged detective work by Drs. Motoko Koyama and Geoffrey Hill is helping to explain why problems develop and what we can do about them.

Read Full Story

A breast tumor might have thousands of mutations. Which are important?
Finding the gene changes that drive breast cancer growth can open the door to future targeted treatments. A new method developed at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center might be the key. 

Read Full Story

New insights into drug resistance in small cell lung cancer
After responding to chemotherapy at first, small cell lung cancer tends to become resistant to it and to re-emerge. Researchers at the Hutch are discovering clues that explain how this switch happens and how to reverse the process.

Read Full Story

Immune response in colorectal cancer: What helps, what hurts?
The more T cells — a type of immune cell — in a colorectal tumor, the better the outlook for the patient. But it’s more complex than that. Fred Hutch researchers are drilling down into how the T-cell response differs based on a person’s lifestyle, genetics and other factors.

Read Full Story

Making clinical trial information more accessible
Dr. Heather Cheng treats people with prostate, bladder and other genitourinary cancers. To help them, and ultimately every cancer patient, find and enroll in clinical trials, she’s working on ways to make these complicated studies easier to understand.

Read Full Story

Tackling health inequities with hope and heart
To prevent cancer across our communities, healthcare providers need to address the structural barriers that stand in patients’ way. That means going beyond slogans and dedicating real resources. Dr. Jason Mendoza and his team are making change happen. 

Read Full Story