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Cancer “Moonshot” Panel Recommends Focusing On Immunotherapy

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A new report put together by a panel of cancer experts and advocates outlines recommendations on how the White House’s cancer “moonshot” plan should proceed, the Washington Post reports.

These recommendations encouraged scientists to delve deeper into immunotherapy and to create tailor-made treatments by helping patients genetically profile their tumors.

Immunotherapy is a new, revolutionary cancer treatment that has shown to be highly effective in some patients. Because of this, the report says that there should be more focus on these treatments. These include the medications that seemed to have halted former US President Jimmy Carter’s melanoma.

The report highlights ten areas that might help the moonshot project achieve its goal of coming up with ten years’ worth of results in just five years. Included on the list are: learning what triggers childhood cancer, minimizing side effects of therapies, and making use of proven anti-cancer strategies.

The guidelines in the report are “a bold but feasible scientific proposal,” according to Dr. Doug Lowy, acting director of the National Cancer Institute.

Lowy will send the panel’s report to the cancer moonshot task force.

The moonshot project is headed by US Vice President Joe Biden, launched by President Barack Obama in February this year. The project seeks to lower the mortality rates caused by the nation’s number 2 killer. Cancer has outranked heart disease as the primary cause of death in 21 states and is predicted to kill close to 600,000 people this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Biden suggested the project after his son, Beau, succumbed to brain cancer in 2015. President Obama has put in a request for $1 billion spanning two years, in addition to funds for ongoing cancer studies.

The panel also recommends making a national network of cancer patients who will be able to access genetic profiling of tumors, share data with researchers and participate in clinical trials.

Whether or not the project receives its funding will be determined by how Congress reacts to this report on Wednesday.

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