Updates from the Cancer Moonshot: Two Years In

November 27, 2018

Over the past two years, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has worked to implement the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, including recommendations of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) that highlighted 10 areas of cancer research ripe for innovation. Dinah Singer, PhD, co-chair of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) and Acting Deputy Director of the NCI, recently provided an update on the progress of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative:

Funding and resources for immunotherapy research: Under the Moonshot, NCI has provided funding for the Immuno-Oncology Translational Network, which is developing new immune-based therapies and exploring how to minimize side effects from immunotherapy treatments. Additional funding has been provided for a group investigating immune targets and therapies for children with cancer. NCI has also created a data management center to make it easier for immunotherapy researchers to interact, collaborate, and share their work, including primary data.  

Focus on cancer prevention and early detection: NCI has awarded funding to several research projects that align with the panel's recommendation to expand the use of proven cancer prevention and early detection strategies. Projects include tobacco cessation treatment in patients with cancer, a human papillomavirus vaccine trial, and accelerated screenings for colorectal cancer, among others.

Patient Engagement Network: In order to better understand the unique profile of a patient’s tumor to help guide treatment decisions, the BRP proposed the development of a patient engagement network that would make it possible for any patient diagnosed with cancer to have their tumors molecularly profiled and be preregistered for any clinical trials for which they might become eligible. To address this need, the NCI research team has launched a pilot project, called NCI-CONNECT, for people diagnosed with rare central nervous system tumors.

Human Tumor Atlas Network: Under the Moonshot, NCI funded the Human Tumor Atlas Network, a collaborative network that will study tumor and tissue samples to construct 3-dimensional maps of human cancers that show how cancers change over time.

In December 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which allocated $1.8 billion over 7 years to transition the Moonshot from an ambitious idea to a reality. Most recently, Congress included $400 million for the Moonshot for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

For more information funding opportunities through the Moonshot, visit NCI's Cancer Moonshot website.

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