Cancer research dominates talk during Biden’s visit to Seattle

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SEATTLE -- Local cancer researchers got a rare opportunity to sit down with Vice President Joe Biden during his visit to Seattle on Monday.

Before Biden’s visit to Fred Hutchison in South Lake Union, he stopped by a fundraiser luncheon for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The vice president showed support for her re-election and addressed the crowd at the annual Golden Tennis Shoe Awards.

“Patty and I understand each other.  We know what middle class means.  It means being able to own your own home and not have to rent it.  It means being able to send your kid to a park and know they`re coming home safely,” Biden said.

After making his remarks at the convention center downtown, Biden’s attention turned to cancer research. Biden toured one of the 300 labs at Fred Hutch before sitting down with some of the minds behind the groundbreaking research aimed to cure cancer.

For two hours, Biden asked questions about the immunotherapy research going on at Fred Hutch.  The new era of cancer treatment is immunotherapy where scientists are using a patients’ own cells to fight cancer. During clinical trials, doctors are able to take the T-cells out of a cancer patient, re-engineer the cells and put them back to fight cancer cells.

Fred Hutch tells Q13 News the clinical trials are hugely successful so far. Many patients in the trial are fighting off the disease in 18 months.

“We have the science we can see on the horizons cures but we need more people involved, more patients, more clinical trials,” Kelly O’Brien with Fred Hutch said.

Researchers hope Biden's visit will put a national spotlight on the struggle to find a cure. Biden, who lost his son, Beau Biden, to cancer, spoke about his son’s battle during the panel discussion. He says he’s impressed with the advancements already. He told the crowd anything is possible, including finding a cure in the next 10 years.

President Obama in January proposed $1 billion for cancer research. On Monday, Biden told the crowd he was confident the feds could secure the funds. The president is calling for high-risk, high-reward projects, something Fred Hutch says they are doing already.