Understanding The Cancer Moonshot Program
- President Joe Biden originally spearheaded his Cancer Moonshot program as vice president under President Barack Obama, but he’s since reignited this program as president in order “to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years, and improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer.”
- In a recent update, the White House shared details of the program’s progress thus far including, but not limited to, an expansion of the Cancer Research Data Ecosystem, the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act lowering the cost of prescription drugs for cancer patients, the creation of the Cancer Moonshot Scholars Program and the launching of a new program created to understand the impact of service-related toxic exposure on the development of cancer in members of the military.
- Our experts seem to have a positive outlook on the program’s progress thus far. One of our experts say the program takes a “comprehensive look at cancer.”
Biden originally spearheaded his Cancer Moonshot program as vice president under President Barack Obama. The goal of “reigniting” this program as president was “to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years, and improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer.”Read More
“Beating cancer is something we can do together. And that’s why I’m here today,” he said during the address. “When President Kennedy called for a moonshot, we didn’t have all the tools and experience needed. With our Cancer Moonshot, today we do.”
Though SurvivorNet always tries to steer clear of politics, we know these things are hugely important. And we do think it’s crucial to update our community on what the White House just shared as a progress report on the program.
I believe we can end cancer as we know it and even cure cancers once and for all.
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 12, 2022
So, we thought we would summarize the program’s developments outlined in a White House statement released on September 12, 2022, and provide some experts’ takes on the program to let our community make up its own mind about the recent update.
Updates from the Cancer Moonshot Program
Below are some of the key points of progress coming from the Cancer Moonshot Program, according to the recently released statement from the White House.
- President Biden announced Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural Director of ARPA-H, a new agency to drive biomedical innovation that supports the health of all Americans.
- Biden signed an Executive Order to launch a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative to ensure the United States makes cutting-edge biotechnologies and other innovations. As part of the new initiative, the National Institutes of Health is expanding the Cancer Research Data Ecosystem, a national data infrastructure that encourages data sharing to support cancer care for individual patients and enables discovery of new treatments.
- The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act lowers costs of prescription drugs for cancer patients.
- The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a feasibility (Vanguard) study in preparation for a large randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate Multi-Cancer Early Detection (M.C.E.D.) assays for the purpose of cancer screening.
- The National Cancer Institute has opened a brand-new early-career grant opportunity called the Cancer Moonshot Scholars Program to invest in the next generation of innovative cancer researchers with a focus on developing a cancer research workforce that is more representative of the U.S. population.
- The Biden-Harris Administration updated U.S. policy guidance to make the results of taxpayer-supported research immediately available to the American public at no cost.
- The Department of Defense’s Murtha Cancer Center Research Program has launched a new program with the goal of understanding the impact of service-related toxic exposure on the development of cancer in members of the military.
- Last month, the NCI announced $23 million to support the creation of a Telehealth Research Centers of Excellence (TRACE) which will study the role of telehealth in cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and equity of access and outcomes.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) expanded partnerships to deliver new cancer technologies.
What Are Experts Saying?
The Biden Cancer Moonshot program certainly has a lot different aspects to it, so we thought it’d be helpful to share what our experts think of the program’s progress thus far. Dr. Pavan Reddy, director of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center [DLDCCC], shared a statement with SurvivorNet that encapsulated his feelings after President Biden’s recent remarks.
“Yesterday, President Biden ‘supercharged’ the cancer moonshot program,” he told SurvivorNet. “Much like President Kennedy did with the moonshot program 60 years ago, President Biden too has laid down a time line and marker in the sand, to reduce cancer mortality by 50% over the next 25 years.”
Dr. Reddy went on to say that the update “builds on the vision” the president previously articulated.
“Yesterday he proposed a wide ranging, multi-pronged approach to prevent, detect and treat cancer that can benefit all Americans,” he said. “He announced an array of initiatives that aim at cancer surveillance, understanding its environmental, social determinants, and in bringing novel therapies, quickly.
“While cancer has proven to be a cunning adversary, this is a welcome investment that will help us tackle it in an urgent manner, take risks, break silos and deliver faster results. We at the DLDCCC are well-poised to leverage these initiatives and play a leading and critical role in finding the answers, and defeating cancer.”
Dr. Jason Hall, surgeon-in-chief and chairman of the department of surgery at Tufts Medical Center, echoed Dr. Reddy’s positive outlook, but zeroed in on some of the specific progress being made like the Inflation Reduction Act’s effect of prescription drug costs for cancer patients.
“I think we’ve made a fair amount of progress in the cure of late stages of cancer in the past two decades, and patients are, in general, living longer and, I think, enjoying a better quality of life even when they do have a cancer diagnosis,” Dr. Hall said in an interview with SurvivorNet. “But I think the high cost of cancer care continues to be an issue that we will have to confront, not only at a household level, but at a societal level and so the idea that this program includes, through the Inflation Reduction Act, it lowers the cost of prescription drugs is really important because, as we know, we still have restrictions in access to care for many patients and so lowering the cost of getting cancer care is a huge advantage.”
He also noted that the Cancer Moonshot Scholars Program seemed like a promising step in training “the next generation of scientists” that are going to impact the future of cancer research and care, and the increases in federally funded research “are going to be really important for both training the next generation of investigators and also making federal monies available for research.”
Dr. Hall also noted that efforts by The Department of Defense’s Murtha Cancer Center Research Program to address the environmental exposures that have affected our nations veterans are a step in the right direction as well.
“Veterans have been complaining about that for years, Dr. Hall said. “I think those kinds of studies could be incredibly important to our understanding of how environmental exposure affects the development of cancers.”
Additionally, Dr. Hall said the Cancer Moonshot Program’s investment in telehealth research, even though “it’s not a huge investment,” is an example of the program’s “comprehensive look at cancer.”
“The other thing I noticed that they’re doing is investing in telehealth centers because I think that will be an increasingly important way to deliver timely and effective care to patients and might be a solution to the access problem,” Dr. Hall said. “I think the take home message is it’s pretty comprehensive, right? And somebody’s thought really broadly about these kinds of things – at least in the marketing of it.”