Health News

VP Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Reports Progress, But Faces Challenges As Well

Photo from Wikipedia

Vice President Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” project may have made progress, but it still faces plenty of challenges – all of which Biden is expected to report on in an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama.

The government’s cancer project has given the fight against cancer a renewed boost, but several problems remain. These include a lack of coordination among researchers, an outdated culture of funding, and extremely slow information dissemination on new treatments, the Washington Post reports.

Biden lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015 – a tragic event that motivated Biden and his wife, Jill, to “save countless other sons and daughters.” Included in the meeting with Obama is a letter detailing Biden’s personal experiences with cancer, government and private measures to accelerate progress in research and health care, and recommendations on how to reach these goals.

Cancer research has reached an “inflection point,” according to Biden. This refers to an increased understanding of how cancer works, access to genetic information and other scientific data, as well as advances in technology. All of these provide a positive outlook for possible treatments.

Biden has recommended a new process in funding that seeks to reward scientists for individual discoveries, rather than team efforts, especially those sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. This “high risk, high reward research” method should “lead to new answers and new solutions.”

In addition, there should be improved access to clinical trials, as studies are finding it difficult to recruit and retain participants. While there are initiatives underway to address these problems, Biden says more needs to be done.

Obama named Biden head of the cancer moonshot in January, and the project aims to make a decade’s worth of progress in five years. As the current administration prepares to change, Biden faces the uphill prospect of convincing Congress to approve more funds for cancer efforts.

The administration, researchers and patient advocates have been pushing for Congress to approve $700 million in cancer projects. Jon Retzlaff, managing director for science policy and government affairs for the American Association for Cancer Research, says,

With all the momentum in 2016, if you are unable to show something for these new ideas, it will be very difficult to all of a sudden build up from the ground floor next year.

There seems to be some hope for cancer initiatives. Republicans have indicated that passing the 21st Century Cures legislation is a top priority, and could serve as a venue for funding.

Despite criticisms and skeptics, supporters of the cancer moonshot say that Biden’s efforts have led to public-private partnerships and raised awareness for cancer.

For example, the National Cancer Institute is set to announce a new partnership with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to build a model for maintaining genetic data on the cloud, making information accessible to researchers. The Defense Department will launch a new study that will use blood and tissue samples from 250,000 members of the armed forces to identify cancer markers. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have also committed to help cancer patients reach their doctor’s appointments.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has expressed her support for the moonshot, and said that she would welcome Biden’s advice. Republican nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, has not commented on the matter.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.