"If cancer is detected when it is still localized, we can cure it virtually 100 percent of the time with surgery and targeted radiotherapy," she said. "Once it has spread, it requires chemotherapy and becomes much harder to treat successfully."
For example, solid tumors can be cured 90 percent of the time if they're detected and treated early, whereas cure rates for late-stage cancer are usually only about 10 percent.
Fred Hutchinson was selected to lead the consortium, McIntosh said, because it can provide the expertise and infrastructure necessary for moving the results of new proteomic technologies from the laboratory into the clinic.
" Once we determine how to systematically discover those markers characteristic of early cancer development, the next challenge will be to go out and conduct population-based studies to find out if using them clinically can save lives. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been a leader in that aspect of early detection as well," McIntosh said The recent award a key part of Fred Hutchinson's Early Detection and Intervention Initiative launched last year through $4.4 million in private funding represents the latest in a series of major biomarker-research funding grants to institutions within the new consortium, underscoring their stature in the field of proteomics.
Last year, for example, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received $10.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop advanced instrumentation for studying large and complex protein sets, thus establishing PNNL as a worldwide base for proteomics research. In 2002, the Institute for Systems Biology received $19.8 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to establish one of 10 NHLBI Proteome Research Centers in the nation.