Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Courtesy of Dr. David Maloney / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

The family of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has given Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center its largest-ever single gift.

The $20 million donation will fund research into cancer immunotherapy, a field that uses the body’s own immune system fight tumors. Fred Hutch president Dr. Larry Corey says the line of research is making huge strides.

vissago / Flickr

Two nutrient supplements once thought to protect against cancer may actually increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at 4,856 men taking large doses of vitamin E and selenium, either alone or together, or a placebo.

AP Photo

Fifty years ago this weekend, the U.S. surgeon general released a landmark report blaming smoking for a number of health risks.

A new study co-authored by Seattle researchers says the campaign against smoking has saved about eight million lives since. That’s more than the population of Washington state, or put another way, it’s like preventing about five full Metro buses from driving off a cliff every day for 50 years.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series. Learn how scorpion vemon led local researchers to the brink of discovery of a new class of drugs in Part 1.

Consider the chemical elegance of a potato. Or a petunia. Or a horseshoe crab.

Somewhere in each of those organisms is a special little protein uniquely equipped to do what medicines do: barge in on biological processes and mess with them. With a little tweaking, it’s possible they could be trained to, say, keep cancer cells from spreading.

A few years ago, Dr. Jim Olson and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had figured out how to make those proteins by the thousands, but they hadn’t yet figured out how to pay for it.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Deathstalker scorpion is about the size of your palm. It’s yellow and surly, its venom a seething cocktail of neurotoxins.

And somewhere in that poison soup is a very special little molecule, called chlorotoxin, designed to penetrate a prey animal’s brain. That effect happens to come in very handy: while it’s in there, it sticks to cancer cells while slipping right by healthy ones.

Jim Olson, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, put that toxin to work.

Seattle’s a hub for cancer research, and usually that means scientists are looking for cures or new treatments. Now a new project will try to tell us if those treatments are worth the price-tag.

The Associated Press

Three Seattleites are among the 220 new members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year: Melinda Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Dr. Larry Corey, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Dean Forbes / FHCRC

Whether or not to take hormones has become one of life’s difficult choices as women face menopause, and look for ways to relieve the symptoms. A new study suggests women may be able to minimize the risks if they start in their 50’s.

It also shows negative effects appear more common for women if they take estrogen after age 60.

Rob Gipman, Uganda Program on Cancer and Infectious Diseases / FHCRC

The fight against diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis has made Seattle a center for global health. 

Now, increasingly, the battle is including cancer -- which might seem ridiculously impossible.  Isn’t it hard enough to fight infectious diseases in poor countries? Can we afford to start talking about the diseases like cancer, which we still struggle with in the United States?