33rd Annual Hutch Holiday Gala Raises Millions for Cancer Immunotherapy Research

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 General News
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SEATTLE, Dec. 8 Saturday's Hutch Holiday Gala raised morethan $2.2 million for cancer and related disease research at Fred HutchinsonCancer Research Center.

"Help the Hutch," a portion of the live auction during which guests raisetheir bid cards for specific contribution levels, brought in $1.2 million tobe directed toward immunotherapy, through which clinicians harness a patient'simmune system to battle cancer.

The black-tie Gala took place Dec. 6 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the SeattleSheraton Hotel. Leading the "Help the Hutch" appeal was Dr. Lee Hartwell,president and director of the Hutchinson Center, who said donations madethrough the annual outreach event are essential to help scientists makediscoveries that improve the future of human health.

"We are fortunate that the community recognizes the need for privatesupport in the fight against cancer," Hartwell said. "Government grants simplydo not provide the resources necessary to pilot new research ideas or bringnew breakthroughs to patient care.

"Our science has demonstrated the potential of immunotherapy to change theface of cancer treatment," he said. "Because of the resources required todevelop these novel therapies, we have had to move slowly. Yet ourextraordinary success with these therapies and new information about how toextend their results has brought us to the point where a major acceleration ofthis work is needed."

Funds raised through the "Help the Hutch" portion of the Gala will be usedfor an expansion of immunotherapy clinical trials to test their impact onnormally fatal late stage disease for a variety of cancers, Hartwell said.

An example of the Center's success in immunotherapy research was reportedin the June 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, in which a teamled by Cassian Yee, M.D., an associate member of the Clinical ResearchDivision, described the first successful use of a human patient's clonedinfection-fighting T cells as the sole therapy to put advanced melanoma tumorsinto long-term remission. A type of white blood cell was removed from a52-year-old man who had metastatic Stage 4 melanoma; more such cells weregrown in the lab, then infused into the patient. Two months later the man'stumors were gone and he remained disease-free two years later, when he waslast checked. Yee and other Center researchers are now expanding clinicaltrials that use T-cell therapy to treat advanced tumors.

At the Saturday night Gala, patrons also bid for exclusive auctionpackages including a zero-gravity flight with space and science celebritiesincluding Bonnie Dunbar and Charles Simonyi and Dr. Hartwell, which sold at$7,500 per person for a total of $157,500; an Italian sojourn at VillaMadalena, $20,000; a U.S. Open package, $16,000; VIP tickets to the CountryMusic Awards, $14,000; and an exclusive July 4 fireworks party on a rooftopdeck at the Hutchinson Center's South Lake Union campus, $13,000.

The evening's festivities included the presentation of the Grace HeffernanArnold Guild's 2008 Distinguished Community Service Award to the Swansonfamily. Accepting the award were Gerry and Gloria Swanson, who have beeninvolved with the community for 30 years through such causes as the HutchinsonCenter, Seattle Children's and United Way. The couple's children and theirspouses also support a variety of organizations and, in combination with afamily fund at Children's, established the Swanson Family Endowed Chair inPediatric Bone Marrow and Transplantation Research, a chair held by theHutchinson Center's Dr. Jean Sanders.

Presented by the Grace Heffernan Arnold Guild and the Hutch Holiday Galaboard of trustees, the Hutch Holiday Gala featured live and silent auctionsand an elegant dinner with hundreds of business and community leaders inattendance. Through the past three decades the Gala has raised more than $60million in support of key research initiatives and patient and family programsat the Hutchinson Center.

To learn more about the Hutch Holiday Gala, call 206-667-5423 or visithttp://www.hutchgala.com. More information about the Hutchinson Center isavailable at http://www.fhcrc.org.

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams ofworld-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnoseand treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, includingthree 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 http://www.fhcrc.org.CONTACT Christi Ball Loso 206-667-5215 closo@fhcrc.org

SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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