IU Simon Cancer Center Update - September
Indianapolis, Indiana (October 2, 2012) — Researchers are making discoveries every day at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Meet Gary Hutchins, a nuclear physicist and member of the breast cancer research program.
From Da Vinci’s sketches of human musculature to Madame Curie’s discovery of radium used to x-ray the human skeleton, scientists have always yearned to see the structure of the human body. Yet, today’s imaging advancements have exceeded anything these early pioneers could have envisioned.
Scientists now have the ability to see – in real time – when and where small molecules “hit” microscopic tumor targets. To do this, biomarker-seeking compounds are tagged with radioactive isotopes. Their activity is then traced as they move through the blood stream to breast cancer tumor targets. With advanced imaging technology, Gary Hutchins, a nuclear physicist and member of the breast cancer research program, is able to validate the role of biomarkers discovered in the Vera Bradley Laboratories in the growth and spread of cancer. He also is able to determine the effectiveness of new compounds by calculating if tumor growth is slowed or stopped once they are trapped in the tumor tissue.
Gary’s foray into nuclear physics began at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he studied physics and lettered in baseball and soccer. Graduate studies at Wisconsin and his first faculty position at the University of Michigan prepared him to develop core imaging resources for the IU Simon Cancer Center.
Biomarker discovery has long been a hallmark of the Vera Bradley Laboratories. Gary’s expertise helps move target discovery to new drug development.
Vera Bradley Research Update
Gary’s early interaction with the breast cancer program was involvement with Kathy Miller, MD, to demonstrate four-to-fivefold decreases in blood flow to tumors when anti-angiogenic drugs were administered. For the first time, drug effectiveness was noted in minutes and hours, not days and weeks, a typical time period monitoring tumor size. Successful pre-clinical work led to clinical trials with imaging. Their studies demonstrated that by reducing blood flow to the tumor, tumor growth was slowed.