The team behind POLITICO’s Cancer Moonshot Mission Update is optimistic that the knowledge gained during the Covid crisis on improving healthcare accessibility, along with the advancement of cutting-edge technologies, will lead to President Joe Biden’s objective of reducing the cancer mortality rate by half.
However, both government officials and external specialists at the gathering also acknowledged that there are still significant obstacles to overcome. They emphasized that in order to achieve President Biden’s goal within the 25-year timeframe he envisions, there must be greater advancements made.
Experts in cancer advancements stated that obstacles in regulations for clinical trials, significant disparities in availability of preventive screenings, and flaws in the cancer drug market continue to impede progress.
Here are three takeaways from the event, moderated by POLITICO’s Erin Schumaker and Katherine Ellen Foley:
There are thrilling new developments coming soon.
Government officials, cancer doctors, and industry leaders reached a consensus: There are several promising therapies currently being developed – including ambitious projects from the recently established Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
“We have ambitious aspirations for the future,” stated Renee Wegrzyn, who leads ARPA-H. “Our goal is to choose high-risk projects and expedite their development for the marketplace.”
The development of technology, specifically mRNA vaccines, is creating optimism. Continued efforts may lead to therapies that can adjust immune responses. This could not only benefit cancer treatment, but also autoimmune disorders and even long-term Covid, according to Wegrzyn.
Some research projects, like an ARPA-H initiative aimed at improving tumor detection and removal during surgery, may not receive much attention from the media.
According to Wegrzyn, the current approach to cancer care often requires multiple surgeries due to the challenge of completely removing cancerous tissue without causing nerve damage. The project’s goal is to transition towards a single surgery solution.
need to fund each other
Collaboration is essential for innovators, as well as financial support for funders.
ARPA-H is one of many participants in cancer innovation, alongside the National Cancer Institute, universities, pharmaceutical companies, investors, providers, and patient groups.
Danielle Carnival, deputy assistant to the president for the cancer moonshot and deputy director for health outcomes, stated that the administration is strengthening ties between agencies and the private sector to enhance their efforts. This approach not only links their work but also ensures its relevance to individuals.
The Biden administration has announced a new network for cancer innovation, which will involve research centers and providers nationwide, in order to improve collaboration.
According to Wegrzyn, data and innovation will be exchanged in both directions, with information being shared from the field and discoveries being pushed from research institutions throughout the network.
The leaders emphasized that the success of the moonshot project will heavily rely on the administration’s collaboration with university researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and investors to facilitate innovation.
According to Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, the CEO of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, solving difficult problems often requires collaboration through team science.
Ensuring fair and equitable access to healthcare would result in significant benefits.
Experts stated that increasing access to clinical trials and improving the development of new treatments for those with limited access to healthcare will reduce death rates among communities of color and rural patients who currently experience a disproportionate amount of suffering.
A new center for ARPA-H in Dallas will prioritize improving accessibility by diversifying clinical trials and connecting with diverse patient populations.
According to Wegrzyn, our goal is to ensure that new treatments are accessible, affordable, and practical for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Not only is it advanced technology, but certain tools like cancer screenings and treatments are still inaccessible to a large number of Americans.
Carnival expressed concern about the unequal availability of necessary resources. They emphasized the importance of expanding access to these resources to reach a greater number of Americans, which is a key goal of the moonshot initiative.
According to Dr. Clifford Hudis, the CEO of the American Society Of Clinical Oncology, providing all patients with access to modern and high-quality care would lead to a 20 percent improvement in outcomes.
Dr. Sara Tolaney, the leader of the Breast Oncology Division at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, pointed to progress made during the pandemic in promoting diverse involvement in trials for vaccines and treatments as proof that enhancing accessibility is achievable.
According to Tolaney, there are still ways the administration could make it easier for people to take part in clinical trials. This could include getting rid of the requirement for patients to physically go to the trial facility for every appointment. Tolaney believes that participating in trials is currently too difficult.