Cancer 'moonshot' panel says immune therapies may be key

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Vice President Joe Biden leads
the Moonshot initiative

Cancer 'moonshot' panel says immune therapies may be key

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
The Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel headed by Vice President Joe Biden has issued a draft report highlighting 10 key recommendations.

The moonshot effort was called an “enormous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the cancer community and our nation to battle the disease,” by the panel's co-chairs Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., director of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, professor and deputy director for translational research at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dinah Singer, Ph.D., acting deputy director, National Cancer Institute.

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"We are truly at an inflection point for preventing and treating cancer, which is the result of decades of dedicated efforts to increase our knowledge and understanding of the more than 200 diseases called cancer," Dr. Margaret Foti, chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research, said in a separate statement about the panel report.

The report zeroes in on “a finite set of programs that are poised for acceleration, and that could unleash new cancer breakthroughs if implemented." A number of them highlight the growing importance of big data in medical research and practice.

The panel's recommendations include:

• 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.
• Identify therapeutic targets to overcome drug resistance 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.
• Improve understanding of fusion oncoproteins in pediatric cancer and use new preclinical models to develop inhibitors that target them.
• 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.
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