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Biden-Harris Administration Revives Cancer Moonshot Program

The Biden-Harris administration has announced a plan to restart the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which President Joe Biden first launched as vice president of the Obama administration in 2016.

Ben Neel, MD, PhD

Ben Neel, MD, PhD

The Biden-Harris administration has announced a plan to restart the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which President Joe Biden first launched as vice president of the Obama administration in 2016, according to a White House press briefing that was hosted today.1

Key tenets of the plan include efforts to increase screening rates, address inequity, fast-track clinical trials, and support advances like the use of mRNA to target cancer to reduce the age-adjusted death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer.2

Since the inception of the Cancer Moonshot program in 2016, the National Cancer Institute has created initiatives to further research in immuno-oncology, cancer drug sensitivity and resistance, pediatric cancers, patient engagement, cancer health disparities, and clinical implementation science, and funded the Human Tumor Atlas Network, resulting in more than 70 initiatives, 240 new projects, and 69 million hours of analysis between 2013 and 2020 in the data sharing ecosystem, with over 70,000 users every month.3

“[Because of] the progress over the last 25 years the death rate has fallen by more than 25%, but despite the progress of lives extended and lives saved cancer is still the number 2 cause of death in America,” President Joe Biden said in the press briefing.4

“We called for a Moonshot 2.0 because we desperately need it,” David B. Agus, CEO of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine and lead author of an editorial published in Lancet Oncology calling for another moonshot effort said.1

Under the new plan, the Cancer Moonshot will:

  • Reestablish White House leadership;
  • Form a cancer cabinet;
  • Issue a call to action on cancer screening and early detection;
  • Host a White House Cancer Moonshot summit;
  • Build on a White House cancer roundtable conversation series; and
  • Require an all-hands-on-deck approach with the help of the private sector, foundations, academic institutions, health care providers, and all Americans.2

“We know that the best way to deal with cancer is to prevent it or detect it before it has spread and become extremely dangerous. We know that cancer screenings save lives. It’s also critical that we develop better methods for screening such as circulating tumor DNA and define better who is at risk so we can personalize prevention as we have been personalizing therapy,” Ben Neel, MD, PhD, director of NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, said in a statement in response to the significance of the announcement.

References

  1. Biden to relaunch cancer moonshot, hoping to cut deaths by 50%. Axios. February 2, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2022. https://yhoo.it/3IZGAW2
  2. Fact sheet: President Biden reignites cancer moonshot to end cancer as we know it. The White House. February 2, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2022. https://bit.ly/3sbbVy1
  3. Agus DB, Jaffee EM, Dang CV. Cancer Moonshot 2.0. Lancet Oncol. 2021;22(2):P164-165. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00003-6
  4. President Biden hosts an event at the White House to reignite the Cancer Moonshot. Youtube. February 2, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9Yc_zKb5N8
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