Cancer Moonshot: Biden to release final report on cancer research effort

Cancer Moonshot: Biden to release final report on cancer research effort

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to release the final report on the administration’s “cancer moonshot” project today.

“The final moonshot report, which Biden is scheduled to deliver in an Oval Office meeting, lists an array of promising new government and private actions designed to accelerate progress,” the Washington Post reports. “It also includes a letter to the president describing in personal terms the impact of the death of Biden’s son Beau from brain cancer in May 2015, as well as recommendations on how to score research breakthroughs and improve patient care over the next five years.”

Among the findings from Biden’s report: too many bureacratic restrictions are delaying cutting-edge treatments from reaching patients. Biden is also expected to tell the President about the “problems recruiting and retaining patients for clinical trials.”

“The impediment isn’t the lack of the gray matter genius [of cancer researchebureaucratic rs] and the ingenuity in terms of new drugs and new treatments, et cetera; it’s all this stuff that gets in the way,” Biden said earlier this year, according to CNN. “The only thing I’m good at in government is getting things out of the way.”

Cancer Moonshot: 3 Tangible Steps to Help Patients

As part of the Cancer Moonshot report, the White House announced three tangible efforts that will help patients.

1. Big Data on Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft are announcing a partnership to build a sustainable model for maintaining cancer genomic data in the cloud. The information stored there will be available to cancer researchers through the NCI’s Genomic Data Commons and Cancer Genomics Cloud programs.

2. Department of Defense Study & Cancer Registry 

The Department of Defense is establishing a groundbreaking new study to transform our understanding of the biological basis of cancer. Using the vast amount of data housed within DoD’s cancer registry database and biological sample collection, researchers will have at their fingertips potentially 250,000 samples to uncover new connections between the earliest signs of cancer. Findings can then be linked to information housed within the Environmental Protection Agency’s databases to further accelerate our understanding of the environmental factors contributing to disease progression.

3. Improved Transportation for Cancer Patients

Lyft and Uber intend to expand their support of affordable, reliable transportation for cancer patients because currently one fourth of patients miss or reschedule their treatments and appointments because of transportation issues. For example, Lyft commits to expand its Boston-based “Treatment Transport” partnership to all 200+ cities Lyft currently serves by 2020, to provide patients, particularly those from low income communities, with credits to receive free transportation to and from treatments. And Uber sets a goal to connect millions of patients with rides annually, in over 500 cities by 2018.

What They’re Saying about the Cancer Moonshot

  • “The moonshot is a lot of rhetoric and a lot of meetings” — Vinay Prasad, an oncologist at the Oregon Health and Sciences University.
  • “I think the moonshot is a wonderful, visionary effort” — Drew Pardoll, director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins University.
  • “The name suggests a broad, revolutionary new set of initiatives, but the Biden program’s funding represents a tiny fraction of the current national spending on cancer research… It’s a small component of the nearly $4 trillion federal budget. As health reporters at Bloomberg and Vox.com pointed out recently, the original moonshot cost $160 billion in today’s dollars; the annual budget for the National Cancer Institute is $5.2 billion; and the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimates that bringing a single new drug to market costs about $1.4 billion…” — New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz

What is the Cancer Moonshot?

During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a Cancer Moonshot — an effort by the federal government to improve treatments and speed up research into preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

As part of its plan, the administration planned to invest $1 billion in research, improve coordination among groups, and identify ways to streamline the research and development of new treatments.

In March, cancer patient Greg Simon was tapped as the project’s executive director. Then in June, Vice President Joe Biden officially kicked off the Cancer Moonshot at a conference in Washington, D.C. As part of the national kickoff, the administration coordinated more than 270 events across the country with more than 350 researchers, oncologists and other care providers, data and technology experts, patients, families, and patient advocates taking part at the main event at Howard University.

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