Hematology and Oncology Research and Advances

Advances in our understanding of cancer and advances in treatment begin as research, both in the laboratory and in doctor's offices and hospitals around the world, including Seattle Children's.

We belong to national and international research cooperatives, such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG), dedicated to improving care for children with cancer and someday finding a cure. We are also working to improve outcomes for children with cancer with fewer side effects through our work with dedicated disease-specific consortia, including:

These affiliations allow us to offer our young patients the latest treatment options through clinical trials, including Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials – early studies not available at many other institutions.

Through our partnership in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our patients benefit from the research expertise of physician-scientists at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine as well as the experts here at Children's.

Close work between our research and clinical programs means that the knowledge we gain through research transfers to the care we provide to children.

What's the difference between lab research and clinical trials?

Doctors and other researchers at Seattle Children's and at our SCCA partner organizations engage in lab research as well as clinical trials.

In the lab

Lab research, also called bench research or basic research, focuses on the many forms of investigation that don't directly involve people, or human subjects, in experiments.

For example, researchers may study the life cycle of cancer cells, looking for points in the process when some as-yet-undeveloped agent might be able to interfere and kill the cells or stop them from reproducing.

Or, researchers may study the ways that certain types of cancer cells respond to a medicine. These cells may come from animals or people.

Though the cells may have come from people with cancer who gave consent to use samples of their tissue, these people have no other role in the study. In basic research studies, the cells are exposed to the medicine in the lab; the people do not take the medicine.

Researchers can learn a great deal about how a disease develops and how it responds to different treatments, or interventions, through lab research. Often this type of research becomes the basis for clinical trials later on.

In the clinic

Clinical trials take place in a clinical setting, such as a doctor's office or hospital. They involve people who receive a certain intervention and are monitored for effects.

Researchers must always get permission to include someone in a study. Through a process called "informed consent," they explain the study, its risks and benefits and the participants' rights and duties.

Then the person – or in the case of children, the parents or legal guardians – can decide whether to take part.

Clinical trials go through four phases to test treatments.