- Vice President Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg continued their high-profile push for curing cancer, highlighting the potential of new immunotherapy approaches in an editorial published Wednesday.
- The editorial focused on the potential for public-private partnerships, like the recently announced Bloomberg-Kimmel Center for Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins, in driving the ambition of Biden's Cancer Moonshot forward.
- Earlier this week, Bloomberg and Sidney Kimmel announced the creation of the new center at Hopkins through $125 million in private funding. The center will be staffed by some of the same scientists who worked on the first checkpoint blockade inhibitors and will be led by Dr. Drew Pardol..
In their passionate editorial, Biden and Bloomberg highlighted the role of public-private partnerships in supporting large-scale, game-changing research initiatives such as Cancer Moonshot 2020. However, they explicitly acknowledged that part of the challenge of achieving the goals of the Cancer Moonshot is the extremely tight five-year target.
The editorial further trumpets the newly formed Bloomberg-Kimmel Center for Immunotherapy. Researchers there will focus on advancing the quest for curative treatments for melanoma, as well as challenging solid-organ tumors. So far, immunotherapy has mainly been used for treatment of blood cancers. However, a core goal of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative is to develop effective immunotherapeutic treatments for solid-tumor cancers.
Taking a quantum leap
"With the cancer moonshot and public-private partnerships, we are not trying to make incremental change. We’re looking to make quantum leaps," Biden and Bloomberg wrote in the editorial.
The specifics of the plan to accomplish this monumental goal are ambitious: Conduct phase 2 trials in 20,000 patients across 20 different tumor types in the first three years. During the last two years, the plan is to move into phase 3 trials, with the ultimate goal of developing an effective immunotherapy-based vaccine against cancer by 2020.
The role of big data
The editorial also spoke to the role of technology, specifically big data, in accelerating the initiative's goals. "Recently, an entire industry has sprung up with the power to process medical and scientific information on a massive scale,” they wrote.
“By aggregating big data from cancer studies in one central location that’s accessible to scientists, researchers and physicians, we can further speed up advances in research."
This could be it
Dr. Bob Goldberg, co-founder and vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), an advocate of clinical trial reform as a route to curative therapies, views the creation of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Center as a huge leap forward in the quest for truly transformative treatment options.
He said, "The biggest barrier to curing cancer is the use of outdated clinical trials to approve new medicines, as well as deciding how much to pay for them and who should get them. The Kimmel center is leading the way to the most promising approach to treating cancer: using combinations of targeted therapies as early as possible to keep cancer cells from recruiting healthy ones."