In a report published in Lancet Oncology, cancer researchers
outlined a new model for cancer drug discovery and development
focused on increased data sharing and collaboration, as well as a
major focus on expanding patient access to clinical trials. The
report also focuses on expanding cancer care to underserved groups,
including children, minorities and cancer survivors.
It follows an announcement earlier this month in which the Trump
administration threw its support behind a public-private partnership
with 11 drug companies to advance cancer immunotherapies, a new
class of drugs that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer.
The five-year collaboration is part of the Cancer Moonshot
Initiative, an Obama administration program led by former Vice
President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer. The Cancer
Moonshot aims to speed cancer research and make more treatments
available to more patients, as well as to improve cancer detection
The Lancet Oncology Commission on Future Research Priorities in the
USA expands on the work released last year by the Cancer Moonshot’s
Blue Ribbon Panel, which set priorities for the initiative.
The Lancet report sets out 13 priority areas, each with measurable
goals and targets. The programs are intended to make the best use of
the $2 billion in funding from the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in
2016, that is intended to accelerate cancer research.
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In its report, the Lancet Oncology Commission stresses the need for
studies of cancer drugs and how they perform after they are approved
or how they work when used "off label" in indications for which they
were not initially studied. Such studies could shed light on which
treatments work best in which groups of patients.
To meet these ambitious goals, the commission recommends that
researchers take advantage of technological advances, such as big
data and genomics, to better understand the changes that take place
before cancer begins.
To that end, the commission will develop a pre-cancer atlas to spot
small changes in healthy tissue that signal the first signs of
cancer, information that could lead to new screening and prevention
The report also urges the development of databases in which patients
can enter their personal information for use by cancer researchers
and get linked up with appropriate clinical trials.
Some 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer and 600,000 die
from their disease each year.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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