Joe Biden Cancer Moonshot: We Owe It To Future Generations To Seize This Moment
Joe Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to cancer recently in 2015, and even outlined some of the plans that Obama placed during his administration for the Cancer Moonshot initiative at a meeting inside of Howard University, Washington, just this Wednesday.
Researchers and public health leaders are meeting Wednesday at more than 270 sites in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and D.C. to discuss how they could make a decade worth of progress in understanding, preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer and caring for patients in the next five years.
In effort to double the ROP (rate of progress) the vice president greatly emphasized the huge need for an actual “urgency of now,” taking a phrase from the original title of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in order to fight this “godawful problem.”
The question is:
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14 million: That’s the amount of new global cases of cancer a year, and if the current rate of research progress doesn’t get upped soon, the rate will continue to rise precipitously, he said.
Joe Biden spent the last year touring the country, visiting the leading cancer centers and meeting with experts as well in order to better understand exactly what the government has to do to speed up the process.
Since there are over 200 distinct types of cancer, it’s an incredibly complicated disease to treat and understand, so you can forget about a magical one-size-fits-all cure, it’s just not gonna happen.
“I firmly believe 50, 100, even 1,000 years from now, there will be people dying of cancer; however, I do believe that we can do better” to fight the disease, Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, which he said in January when Cancer Moonshot was announced.
So what’s happening?
In addition to the government’s $1 billion budget initiative and also the dozens of brand new collaborative initiatives between agencies, nonprofits and private companies… On Wednesday Biden “vowed” to knock aside the barriers of collaboration and with smooth, quick and deliberate action.
Any breakthrough in cancer research could and probably will spawn new treatments.
“The impediment isn’t the lack of the gray matter genius [of cancer researchers] and the ingenuity in terms of new drugs and new treatments, et cetera; it’s all this stuff that gets in the way,” Biden said. “The only thing I’m good at in government is getting things out of the way.”
Under the Cancer Moonshot banner, the National Cancer Institute will be officially working with 20 to 30 biotech and pharmaceutical companies in order to speed up progress so that these compounds can get on a pre-approved list. This could possibly quicken clinical trials and give cancer patients more options for a drug.
“As advanced as we are,” Biden added, “the idea that we can’t come up with an app that accurately is able to be used that has all this data on it is surprising to me.”
Is a cure for cancer real or purely rhetoric?
The new cancer data will be available in the National Cancer Institute’s Genomic Data Commons. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is developing a program that will expedite the development of cancer drugs. And the Patent Office created a program that aims to halve the time it takes to review patent applications in select cancer therapy fields.
“I don’t want this to come across as ‘the federal government has the answer.’ We don’t have the answer,” Biden said. He experienced those inefficiencies firsthand with his son, who was a part of a clinical trial.
Though the industry did adopt electronic records through the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, creating several kinds of data systems, “guess what: The five systems can’t talk to each other,” Biden said.
“We have to figure out how we can get out of your way, and you’ve got to figure out how you can get in each other’s way more,” he told the researchers.
In order to do make progress, they’ll need to make an enormous transformation in the entire culture of medical research of cancer, was the gist of the statement that Biden made, seeing as the current culture “changes scientists into grant writers, discouraging risk-taking,” and “stifles” progress.
Instead of rewarding scientists for the number of publications they have, teamwork and results for patients should be emphasized, he said. Research results should be made available immediately, and scientists should share what they learn with each other.
Biden added that just as physics and aerospace scientists do, sharing “complex information seamlessly and ubiquitously all the time, but somehow, I guess for 100 years of tradition, not in medicine,”
“It’s not anybody’s fault,” Biden noted. “We have got to fix it. We owe it to future generations to seize this moment, to move with deliberate purpose.
“We are on the cusp of an awful lot of change,” he said. “It’s within our wheelhouse to do these things.”