During the State of the Union address on January 12, 2016, President Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot, a program aimed at accelerating cancer research.
Curing cancer is an objective truly worthy of a moonshot type effort!
He tasked Vice President Biden with heading up this new national effort.
The ultimate goal is to double the rate of progress — to make a decade’s worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in five years—to end cancer as we know it.
Vice President Biden hopes to get more therapy to more patients, prevent cancer and detect it at an earlier stage.
The goals of this effort cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, or one discipline.
Major Effort Needed
Solving the complexities of cancer will require the formation of new alliances to defy the bounds of innovation and accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and — ultimately — a cure.
It’s going to require millions of Americans speaking up and contributing what they’re able.
The collaboration hopes to bring together more than just science and technology but also include social science and big data, utilizing both the private and public sectors.
The Vice President is asking for the public to share their Cancer Moonshot ideas to help further the cause. Because collaboration is important, they have set up a citizen suggestion box where you can add your bright ideas.
A Blue Ribbon Panel established a working group to steer the effort toward its goals which includes experts in cancer research, patient advocates and private-sector leaders.
Blue Ribbon Panel Report Highlights
This expert panel worked quickly to provide what they believe to be 10 transformative research recommendations.
- Establish a network for direct patient involvement – engage cancer patients by bringing them into a network, allowing them to get a genetic profile that will then help them ‘pre-register’ for appropriate clinical trials benefitting them and the research and contributing their data to the knowledge pool.
- Create a clinical trial network specific to immunotherapy – using the person’s own immune system to fight their cancer. The hope is that, through studying what works, a vaccine to prevent the cancer will be forthcoming.
- Develop ways to overcome resistance to therapy – drug resistance is one cause of cancer deaths. Treatments which work in the beginning often lose their curative abilities over time. Learning more about drug resistance will help overcome this problem.
- Build a national cancer data ecosystem – bringing together all the currently proprietary research data together to allow everyone to access it to work together to increase the pace of a cure.
- Intensify research on the major drivers of childhood cancers – researchers know that rogue proteins, known as fusion oncoproteins, are major drivers of pediatric cancer. Understanding more about their function can accelerate new therapies targeting these cancer-causing proteins.
- Minimize cancer treatment’s debilitating side effects – side effects of cancer treatments can be excruciating and can result in long-term health problems, especially for children. Research is needed to help manage symptoms and side effects in order to allow people to stay on their drug regimens and improve their quality of life.
- Expand use of proven prevention and early detection strategies – prevention and risk-reduction are proven strategies and need to be boosted, especially in medically underserved populations, thereby reducing cancer health disparities. People deemed high risk due to genetics should have increased screening and prevention efforts.
- Mine past data to predict future outcomes – using data and tissue samples available in biobanks could yield information about what therapy was more or less effective and who might benefit from standard care or experimental treatment.
- Develop a 3D cancer atlas – creating a web based catalog of genetic lesions and cellular interactions in tumor and other cells in the tumor microenvironment to map the evolution of tumors from development into metastisis. This will help develop predictive models of tumor progression helping guide treatment.
- Develop new cancer technologies – new tools and technologies showing promise, such as implantable microdosing devices and advanced imaging, to help deliver more effective therapy.
These recommendations give us a vision for the future to help us meet the goals of the Cancer Moonshot when implemented.
Vice President Biden Says
“This is our moonshot. I know that we can help solidify a genuine global commitment to end cancer as we know it today—and inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue new discoveries and the bounds of human endeavor.”
Cancer Advocate Says
Emily Walsh the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance tells us
“The Moonshot initiative opens the door for progress to be made not only for more well known types of cancer, but also for rare cancers that affect much smaller percentages of the population. Mesothelioma, sarcoma, and leukemia are just a few that stand to gain various forms of funding through the Moonshot. Patients of these types of cancer will have more information collected from many different facets to be able to learn about their cancers and their options. They will have greater access to better and more varied types of treatments, including immunotherapy.”
Cancer Moonshot Summit
On June 29 people around the globe attended the Cancer Moonshot Summit, including Senior Care Corner. The forum included 250 regional summits as well as virtual streaming.
The summit hosted by Vice President Biden who spoke from experience when he said “days matter, minutes matter.”
Regional summits gave stakeholders, individuals and communities, a means to voice their opinions about what should be a priority in cancer treatment.
The amount of enthusiasm and unprecedented optimism over the process was evident throughout the Summit.
Already there have been advances by just opening the doors to collaboration among researchers across the globe.
We will keep you informed on the progress of the Cancer Moonshot initiative as we learn more.
“It’s about us not giving up hope and having the urgency of now.” ~~ Vice President Biden