outlines 'Moonshot' initiatives to fight cancer
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[June 30, 2016]
By Toni Clarke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Wednesday
announced plans as part of the administration's "Cancer Moonshot"
initiative, aimed at speeding development of treatments by cutting
bureaucracy and easing collaboration between scientists, industry,
patients and government.
Speaking at a cancer summit at Howard University in Washington,
Biden made an impassioned plea for increased urgency in the fight
against cancer. The event was part of a national day of action
involving hundreds of researchers, patient advocates and data
experts across the country.
Biden's son Beau died last year at age 46 from brain cancer,
something Biden said helps inform his passion for the project.
"I believe we can do in the next five years what would normally take
10 years," he said. "Time matters, days matter, minutes matter."
Among proposals intended to bypass inefficiency at the federal
level, he announced the formation of an Oncology Center of
Excellence at the Food and Drug Administration, which will
coordinate and review all of FDA cancer treatments.
It comes as scientific advances in diagnostics allow for greater
tailoring of drugs to an individual's genetic profile. It is the
first of four potential centers proposed under a bill moving through
Under the existing review system, companies submit products to
different divisions of the agency depending on whether it is a drug,
device or biologic, a drug made from living cells. A treatment that
combines a drug and a diagnostic device could get reviewed on
"We are moving into a very complicated area in oncology where drugs
and devices and biologics are going to be used in combination or
sequentially," Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA's cancer drug director,
said in an interview.
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Pazdur will oversee the establishment of the center and act as its
director for the next 120 days, with the potential for the position
to be renewed. He will report directly to FDA Commissioner Robert
The "Cancer Moonshot" initiative was announced by President Barack
Obama at his State of the Union address in January.
Biden outlined a slew of other collaborations and initiatives,
including making it easier for patients to find and enter clinical
trials through the creation of a cancer trials website and making it
easier for scientists to focus on research and less on raising
"We have to change the culture that turns scientists into grant
writers," he said. "We have to reward teamwork."
(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington and Bill Berkrot in New
York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Jonathan Oatis)
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