Witness to Cancer Research Progress

Cancer Moonshot 2020We recently participated in a webinar sponsored by FasterCures featuring highlights of the Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C. You may recall the Moonshot is the initiative announced at President Obama’s State of the Union Address in January, and led by Vice-President Biden, to accelerate cancer research in order to improve the ability to prevent and detect cancers, and to build a super highway to more effective treatments by 2020. An unprecedented alliance of medical investigators and pharmaceutical companies has come together to get the job done.

Yes, we’ve heard talk about a war on #Cancer before. However this time, the weight of the White House is behind it, and the program is facilitated by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. So many strides have been made in research in recent years that we hope to see vastly more effective medicines coming sooner to the cancer patients who need it.

An important component of the program is to do a better job matching patients with clinical trials that might save their lives even before final therapeutic approvals, and to do that a government site will serve as the conduit: https://cancerclinicaltrialsideas.cancer.gov/. This is a very important first step.

Greg Simon, Executive Director of the CancerMoonshotTaskForce, reported that the top challenge is to dig deeper into understanding the nature of various cancers and encourage development of new forms of treatment. It is important to encourage greater access to new research data and to break through regulatory barriers, which have been a concern of ACGT scientists all along. He also talked about ensuring optimal investment of federal resources, of course, as well as seeking opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Cancer Moonshot is in Alignment with ACGT’s Mission

Interestingly, these goals line-up with the goals of Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy and have been our calling card for the 15 years since inception.

Ellen Sigal, founder and chair of Friends of Cancer Research, spoke about the formation of a blue ribbon working panel consisting of 12 groups, each developing recommendations to meet the goals of the Moonshot by the end of this summer. She talked about the importance of cross-fertilization of learning through a national network of clinical and technological data, and we agree, this is terribly important. Too much science happens in isolation and the more we share learning, the greater the results.

ACGT Cancer Research Symposium 2016

She too emphasized the value of public-private partnerships, which was a theme at the ACGT Scientific Symposium in April, where many of our Research Fellows and members of our Scientific Advisory Council are already establishing productive collaborations between the biotechnology industry and the medical research community.

Beyond the general reporting on what needs to be done, which is pretty clear, and what sort of workgroups will get the job done, I also appreciated an increased emphasis on discovery science, where young investigators break new ground – that’s where revolutionary treatments begin and where ACGT has focused more than half our grant funding over the years. Many of those early lab projects are now in clinical trials and/or serve as the basis for new medicines.

While everyone at the Summit is excited for the attention and funding behind the Moonshot, there was serious concern about what might happen after the November election, not only with a new president, but a Congress that has been reluctant to fund such initiatives in spending battles. It would be a shame to halt this initiative as it builds momentum.

Some of the best brains in the country are working together to shake up the system and put revolutionary medical science on a faster track to patients, and ACGT scientists are at the forefront of these efforts, every single day. Stay tuned and learn more. fastercures.tumblr.com