Hutch raised 49 million to fight cancer with immunology.

Bucks for T and B Cells

One of the wonders of vertebrates is that we have a vascular system .. a system of pipes that carries blood all over your body.  What you may not realize is that evolution not only gave us plumbing but cells to patrol those pipes .. cells called T and B cells.  These cells are very smart .. they learn about you as you develop, developing ways to attack foreign stuff … bugs or chemicals that are foreign.  That defense is called the immune response.  Vaccination, for example, is a way of exposing your B and T cells to a little bit of some bad thing, usually a virus or bacterium, so your own immune system can learn to prevent  a bad infection.

Seattle has a historic place in immunology because investigators here were the first to show we could control immune responses well enough to allow transplants between different people.  Donnall Thomas won the Nobel Prize for that with work that led to the creation to the Hutchinson Cancer Center.

Well, what about cancer?  The immune system evolved to not attack your own cells but that protection can go awry.  That sort of mistake leads to autoimmune diseases like Lupus or Diabetes.  Well, if evolution can make mistakes perhaps human can adapt the same mistakes to attack a part of ourselves that is bad … cancer!

This idea is taking root here in Seattle in a big way.  The Seattle Business News reports that more than 5,800 donors have donated specifically to support the Hutchinson Center’s immunotherapy research since 2004, now reaching a cumulative $49 million.  $20 mil of that is from the Bezos family. 

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