- Hundreds of researchers and oncologists on Wednesday joined Vice President Joe Biden at a Cancer Moonshot summit in Washington, D.C., aiming to accelerate investment and research in the fight against cancer.
- At the summit, the Food and Drug Administration announced the formation of the Oncology Center of Excellence, which will be headed up by Richard Padzur, current head of the cancer drugs division at the FDA.
- Although vague on details, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said Padzur will help to coordinate clinical review across oncology-related drugs, biologics and medical devices.
In January’s State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the need to double the rate of progress towards a cure for cancer. This initiative, dubbed the Cancer Moonshot, was the brainchild of Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died last year of brain cancer at the age of 46.
Since January, there has been some progress towards achieving the goals Obama and Biden set out. Some money has been put towards the $1 billion funding goal for the Moonshot, including provisions in the $195 million that Congress earmarked for the National Institutes of Health in February—although much remains unfunded.
However, the Cancer Moonshot summit, which was hosted from Howard University in Washington, D.C., added some new partners to build out the public and private efforts towards cancer research.
A sampling of some of the stand-out projects:
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced it would collaborate with between 20 and 30 pharmaceutical and biotech companies to test existing cancer drugs for new purposes or in new combinations. Researchers will be able to work with compounds listed on one pre-approved formulary, eliminating the need to negotiate with each company separately. Studies are expected to begin by the end of the year.
Cambridge, MA-based Foundation Medicine is doubling the number of patients represented in the NCI’s Genomic Data Commons, bringing its total to more than 32,000 patients.
And IBM Watson will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs over the next two years, using its supercomputing technology to expand the agency’s precision medicine efforts.