In early 2016, when the Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative, being led by Vice President Joe Biden, the eyes lit up of those impacted by cancer, whether directly or indirectly. This initiative is aimed to rapidly accelerate cancer research, by using collaborative efforts and a stimulating budget.
Joining forces of government departments, agencies and other organizations will be crucial in the success of the Cancer Moonshot. A task force will work together to make sure that previously seen barriers are broken, and information and resources can be used where they are needed. While sensitive information will be protected, helpful information will be used to lead to cancer prevention, detection and treatment breakthroughs.
The National Institute of Cancer (NIH) reported that in 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease. That is an overwhelming statistic that needs attention. The approximate $1billion dollar budget will be used to aid cancer research in a variety of different areas, one of which being immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses parts of a person’s own immune system to help fight cancer cells. It can either work by stimulating your own immune system to work smarter and harder to attack bad, cancer cells, or it can give your immune system additional components like man-made proteins to assist in fighting cancer cells. Typically, immunotherapy does less damage to the body in comparison to more traditional treatment options like chemotherapy and radiation, allowing patients to live a healthier life after treatment.
It is not always simple to find a clinical trial for immunotherapy drugs to help with your cancer treatment, so with the Cancer Moonshot it is expected to help get new drugs approved faster, so that they can be used in clinical trials to help treat all types of cancer, but particularly rare cancers. Trials with immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda are already starting to show hope for patients with mesothelioma.
The additional funding, research and testing will allow doctors to learn more quickly what is working and what isn’t. That will bring new hope to rare cancer patients and their loved ones. To learn more about the Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative, check out CancerMoonshot2020.org and feel free to submit any ideas you might have surrounding the moonshot to the White House website, here.