Eight months after President Barack Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot initiative and Vice President Joe Biden took its lead, a blue-ribbon panel of cancer experts has weighed in on the program’s focus, recommending research areas and collaboration efforts to, as stated in its goals, double the pace of cancer research over 5 years.
Among the recommendations made to the National Cancer Advisory Board, the panel included new technologies such as drug delivery devices, advanced imaging techniques, protein studies and tumor resistance research, according to a report in Nature.
The panel’s report said of delivery devices: “Tumors are highly heterogeneous at the cellular, molecular, and genetic levels; however, sophisticated technologies for characterizing this heterogeneity and for testing drug combinations have simply not been available."
“(N)ewly engineered devices designed to dispense 'micro' doses of drugs directly into an intact tumor (either separately or in varying combinations) are now emerging and have been tested successfully in animal models,” the report continues. “These technologies, if widely implemented, could revolutionize the way drug combinations are tested and tailored for each individual patient.”
Much of the panel’s focus also concerned networking among patients, clinicians and researchers--a Data Ecosystem, they say, would be available at all levels to help them coordinate efforts in a way that hasn’t been done before. The same could be said for patient engagement, enrollment in clinical trials and tumor research.
The National Institutes of Health requested $680 million for the program in 2017 (the fiscal year begins next month) and the panel’s input represents some of the detail lawmakers had said they would need before moving forward on that figure, up from $195 million in 2016.
The National Cancer Initiative is hoping for a substantial boost to move ahead on the initiative. Director Douglas Lowy said: “If we didn’t get one, it’s not that we wouldn’t be able to start anything. It’s just that the size, scope and speed would be dramatically different.”
And taking a giant leap forward against cancer is the whole idea behind Moonshot in the first place.