Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Published 70-page Plan

In his January 2016 State of the Union speech, President Obama signaled an additional major precision medicine initiative, the Cancer Moonshot spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden.   Biden has traveled the country speaking on this topic, visiting universities and laboratories.

On September 7, 2016, a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts released a detailed blueprint with ten recommendations for new and coordinated initiatives (Medscape summary, here).  The NIH webpage is here, and includes video plus the chance to download both a 4 page summary and a 70 page report.

ASCO and AACR applauded the effort.   A summary of the ten initiatives, below the break.

The 10 points are summarized below:
  • Establish a network for direct patient involvement; engage patients to contribute their comprehensive tumor profile data to expand knowledge about what therapies work, in whom, and in which types of cancer.
  • Establish a cancer immunotherapy clinical trials network devoted exclusively to discovering and evaluating immunotherapy approaches.
  • Develop ways to overcome cancer's resistance to therapy, through studies that determine the mechanisms that lead cancer cells to become resistant to previously effective treatments.
  • Create a national ecosystem for sharing and analyzing cancer data so that researchers, clinicians, and patients will be able to contribute data, which will facilitate efficient data analysis.
  • Intensify research on the major drivers of childhood cancers; improve understanding of fusion oncoproteins in pediatric cancer and use new preclinical models to develop inhibitors that target them.
  • Minimize cancer treatment's debilitating side effects; accelerate the development of guidelines for routine monitoring and management of patient-reported symptoms to minimize debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment.
  • Reduce cancer risk and cancer health disparities through approaches in development, testing, and broad adoption of proven prevention strategies.
  • Mine past patient data to predict future patient outcomes; predict response to standard treatments through retrospective analysis of patient specimens.
  • Create dynamic three-dimensional maps of human tumor evolution to document the genetic lesions and cellular interactions of each tumor as it evolves from a precancerous lesion to advanced cancer.
  • Develop new enabling cancer technologies to characterize tumors and test therapies.
For a counterpoint appearing just a few days later, see a block by Derek Lowe at SCIENCE (September 12), citing essays in Nature and Lancet this year by Vinay Prasad with titles like "The Precision Oncology Illusion;" see Lowe here and links therein.  See similarly in 2015, Joyner and Paneth's opinion piece in JAMA, here, and a June 2016 piece in Science Translational Medicine by Beltran, here.