In 2022, there will be approximately 1.9 million new cases of cancer in the United States, as well as 609,360 cancer deaths. Given these numbers, now is the time for the Biden administration to relaunch Cancer Moonshot, a cancer program that began under the Obama administration.
Speaking from the White House today, President Joe Biden said beating cancer was high on his list. “Let there be no doubt, this is a presidential White House priority, period,” Biden said. Moon shot Goals to reduce cancer deaths by at least 50% by 2047, improve the experience of people living with cancer, accelerate scientific research and improve the sharing of cancer-related data. A new cancer cabinet comprising 18 federal departments, offices and agencies has been formed to support the bipartisan agenda.
During his speech, Biden also called on Americans to remember to complete their routine cancer screenings, referring to the fact that more than 9 million cancer screenings have been skipped during the pandemic. The president was also joined by Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. For Biden and Harris, Moonshot is personal. In 2009, Harris lost his mother, Shyamala Gopalan, to colon cancer, and in 2015 Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to brain cancer.
The $400 million to fund the program through 2022 and 2023 is a continuation of the $1.8 billion authorized after Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. This amount was allocated to fund Moonshot over a period of seven years. As vice president at the time, Biden oversaw the project. But why revitalize the program now? According to a senior administrative officialMoonshot is relaunched « because a lot of things have changed that make it possible to set really ambitious goals right now » and « the scientific advances we’ve seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, from the response to it, indicate also things that are possible today.” Over the past few years, messenger RNA (mRNA)—in cells, mRNA uses genetic information to form instructions for making proteins – has been highlighted during the global movement to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19. As scientists at Pfizer and Moderna used the expertise gained while formulating mRNA cancer vaccines to form the new COVID vaccines, there were discussions about whether the success of COVID vaccines could support a push for mRNA-based cancer treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Cancer Moonshot also seeks to unite the broader community of research scientists and clinicians focused on support research initiativesincluding developing new cancer technologies to better detect tumors, creating detailed 3D maps of tumors at every stage of growth, and designing a “national ecosystem” for cancer data collaboration.