Will President Obama’ s Cancer Immunotherapy Colloquium (dubbed Moonshot) mean Government is Fully Behind the War on Cancer or have we heard this before?
UPDATED on 12/13/2016
Greg Simon, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force: Interview Q&A
The following is an interview recently conducted by PMWC with Greg Simon, Executive Director at the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. The discussion focused on the future of the Cancer Moonshot with the upcoming change of administration.
A status update on the Cancer Moonshot will be presented at the upcoming Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 Silicon Valley. To register, click here.
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Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:40 PM
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Subject: PMWC News – Late Breaking Interview – The White House Cancer Moonshot in Limbo
Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D
From Cancer Letters
- Obama Announces Moonshot to Cure Cancer
- When Moonshots Collide
- Soon-Shiong Says FDA & NCI are Onboard For His Moonshot; Feds Deny Involvement
President Barack Obama announced a moonshot aimed at curing cancer, a project to be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
The United States can do “so much more,” Obama said in his seventh and final State of the Union address Jan. 12. “Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had over a decade.
“Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save—let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
|When Moonshots Collide
Did Patrick Soon-Shiong attempt to scoop President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?
Several days before Obama announced the federal government’s moonshot to cure cancer, Soon-Shiong put out a draft press release, claiming that the White House, NIH, FDA and pharmaceutical companies have united in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” an immunotherapy clinical trials program he devised.
Soon-Shiong, founder and CEO of NantWorks and the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine, ultimately announced his moonshot on Jan. 11, a day before Obama announced his.
|Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Government agencies said the biotechnology billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong had overstated the extent of their involvement in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” the immunotherapy clinical trials program he put together.
In an in-depth conversation with Matthew Bin Han Ong, a reporter with The Cancer Letter, Soon-Shiong said that while his program doesn’t seek federal funds, it has the support of NCI and FDA officials.
Soon-Shiong said he and Vice President Joe Biden met to discuss their interlocking missions and are now pursuing them.
From the AACR website
PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) applauds and commends President Obama and Vice President Biden for their dedication in the fight against cancer discussed during tonight’s State of the Union address.
The AACR looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to make faster progress against cancer so that we might achieve the goal that Vice President Biden outlined during his speech in the Rose Garden Oct. 21, 2015, specifically that now is the time to make an “absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today.”
“We have indeed reached an inflection point, where the number of discoveries that are being made at such an accelerated pace are saving lives and bringing enormous hope for cancer patients, even those with advanced disease,” said AACR President José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Now is the time for a major new initiative in cancer science that supports and builds upon our basic science foundation while translating these exciting scientific discoveries into improved treatments for cancer patients, such as in the areas of genomics, precision medicine, and immuno-oncology. Tonight’s State of the Union address underscores the importance of collaborations if we are to achieve the vision that President Obama has outlined.”
To that end, on Jan. 8, a group of 15 AACR members, led by Baselga and comprising a number of AACR Board Members, and other AACR leaders from nine states and 10 of the top cancer centers and medical institutions in the U.S., met with Vice President Biden’s senior staff to discuss the state of cancer research, as well as Vice President Biden’s commitment to leading in this important issue.
Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 4:14 PM
WASHINGTON – Vice President Biden will launch his effort to find a cure for cancer Friday in Philadelphia, with a visit to Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center at the school’s Perelman School of Medicine.
Biden announced the visit in an online post Tuesday night, when the call to cure the disease was one of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union speech.
“It’s personal for me. But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world,” said Biden’s post on Medium. The vice president’s son Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46 last year.
Biden compared the effort to President Kennedy’s call to go to the moon.
“From my own personal experience, I’ve learned that research and therapies are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs,” Biden wrote. “The goal of this initiative — this “Moonshot” — is to seize this moment.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/capitolinq/Biden-to-open-effort-to-fight-cancer-Friday-at-Penn.html#sQFbeebwSDM17S0d.99
Vice President Biden is scheduled to spend part of Friday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, the first stop on his quest for the United States to cure cancer. President Obama announced the new “Moon Shot” mission during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, comparing it with John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration to Congress that the nation would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.Biden’s 3 p.m. visit includes a tour of laboratories and a roundtable discussion with researchers at the Smilow Center for Translational Research and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, both 3400 Civic Center Blvd. The events are not open to the public but are likely to cause some disruption.
In an internal e-mail Thursday afternoon, Garry Scheib, CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, told employees that parts of the building would be emptied for security reasons from 11 a.m. through evening. “In addition, the Secret Service will temporarily close roadways near our campus to allow for secure transport of the Vice President,” Scheib wrote.
A billionaire medical entrepreneur has pulled together several drugmakers and Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross to speed development of what researchers hope could be a powerful weapon against cancers – potent combinations of new drugs that harness the body’s immune system.
So-called immunotherapies help disease-fighting cells attack tumors. Yet researchers believe they may work best when two, three, or more of the drugs are used together – overwhelming a tumor’s cellular defenses with attacks from all sides.
The group – called the National Immunotherapy Coalition – brought together by Patrick Soon-Shiong calls itself Moon Shot 2020. The name spun out of conversations Soon-Shiong had last year with Vice President Biden, whose son Beau died of cancer in May. In his October announcement that he was not running for president, Biden suggested a project of moon-shot proportions would be needed to defeat cancer.
A controversial figure in oncology research circles because of his self-promotion, Soon-Shiong made his fortune by inventing the cancer drug Abraxane in the early 1990s. California-based Amgen and New Jersey-based Celgene have joined the effort. Early reports suggested Pfizer, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline might participate, but other reports indicated they had not as of Monday.
Independence Blue Cross said in a statement Monday that it entered into an agreement with NantHealth, one of Soon-Shiong’s companies, to cover next-generation whole genome sequencing, which is a test designed to detect gene mutations that may serve as markers to help doctors choose cancer treatment.
Independence said its agreement with NantHealth involves a “very specific and complex lab study” related to certain types of cancer. The test will be covered for members with “specific conditions including rare cancers, tumors in children, metastatic cancer of unknown primary, primary brain cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and metastatic cancer where conventional therapies have been exhausted and patients remain candidates for further therapy. Coverage for the testing will be available to eligible members of Independence commercial plans in March 2016.”
As for the National Immunotherapy Coalition, Independence said members referred by their oncologist for participation in one of the approved Moon Shot 2020 clinical trials will be eligible for coverage for the routine patient care costs related to the trial. The coverage includes all routine services required for the patient – such as blood tests, supportive medications, and surgical interventions.
“Independence Blue Cross is committed to bringing state-of-the-art advances in oncology to our members and making care accessible and affordable,” Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross, said in the statement. “Decisions around cancer care are complex and personal. We’re focused on supporting Independence members and their oncologists by offering coverage for this innovative approach to treating cancer. Whole genome sequencing is one more option to help inform a personalized, effective treatment plan.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160112_Billionaire_pulls_together_drugmakers__IBX_for_cancer_collaboration.html#XuXeFCydClgRsX0W.99
This is a Great Announcement But What is the History of the Government and THE WAR on CANCER? (Have we heard this before?)
The War on Cancer (launced by US President Nixon in the early 1970’s) has been discussed on this site from a historical perspective
as well as the further needs the cancer field needs from this governmental effort
A summation of these efforts would say we have achieved great results in reducing the burden of cancer (through smoking cessation, early screening programs, better education, as well as therapeutic advances) however as the worldwide populace ages we are, and will see, a “rising tidal wave” of cancer incidence across the globe, and cancer researchers are feeling we are at an important precipice on this war, one which could be lost.
And the program which both President Obama and Vice President Biden are suggesting, the power would be a massive collaboration between government, academia, industry, and patient advocacy will certainly produce positive results.
However these efforts have been ongoing as with the University of Pennsylvania-Novartis deal to work together on CAR-T therapies for leukemias as well as other cancers
New Facility Poised to Accelerate the Research and Development of Personalized Cellular Cancer Therapies
as well as other academic-industry partnerships in immuno-oncology.
There have been other such announcements in recent years (mainly to draw in research $ or assist in forming academia-industry partnerships) such as:
In 2003 then NCI president Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach announced, after discussions with leaders in the field, that
“I have proposed a challenge goal for the field of cancer research- to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer by 2015. I issued this challenge because I believe we are at a ‘strategic inflection’ in oncology…”
Later in early decade of 2010 another program began to help make a push to recoup some of the government research $ lost to budgetary constraints on the NIH
This program has met much success in raising money, awareness, and clinical trial enrollment (following shows current stats from the organization site)
Founded: May 28, 2008
Funds Pledged since inception: Over $370 Million
Number of scientists participating in SU2C-funded research: Over 1000
Clinical Trails funded by SU2C planned, initiated or completed: Over 160
Patients enrolled in SU2C supported Clinical Trials: Over 6,000 patients
Number of institutions joining in SU2C’s collaborative mission: 129
However, although it has grown the cancer research world encompasses a greater number than they can provide for.
In short, there has been no government effort much like Nixon’s War on Cancer, which took an obscure disease at the time and not only put it in the limelight but probably the most powerful result was the creation of the National Cancer Institute, thereby developing a framework to promote cancer research for the next century. President Obama should be applauded for this effort yet the real test for the Moonshot program will be to create, much like the NCI did, a self-perpetuating system by which continued further advancement can be made.