Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and research estimates that the illness will kill 600,000 people this year alone.
Such an alarming mortality rate lead President Barack Obama to launch the ‘moonshot’ initiative, with the intention of quickly finding a cure for cancer. The US President, having put Vice-President Joe Biden in charge of the project, requested that $1 billion in extra spending would be approved by Congress to cater to the severe health issue.
The ‘cancer moonshot’ summit took place on Wednesday, where hundreds of researchers, medical professionals, and industry leaders gathered together in Washington, D.C.
Biden himself has a personal relationship with the cause after his son, Beau, 46, died of brain cancer in May last year. As a result, the VP managed to help Congress secure $264 million to the National Cancer Institute’s budget in the 2016 spending bill, part of the 6.6 percent funding raise for the National Institutes of Health.
However, the issue lies in profit-oriented cancer studies, which often are not open to public knowledge. Biden believes this slows down the potential progress such research could make for individuals and families across the nation. This in turn is putting pressure on medical research centers to release their investigations on publicly accessible database within a year.
— Cancer MoonShot 2020 (@Moonshot2020) July 1, 2016
Sometimes tough love is the right way
During the summit, the US Vice-President insinuated that if researchers did not comply with the initiative’s requirements, they would lose their funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The Columbus Telegram reported the VP’s warning: “Doc, I’m going to find out if it’s true, and if it’s true, I’m going to cut funding. That’s a promise”.
The idea behind the initiative is to reach a decade’s worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in five years. Research proposals included data on high rates of triple-negative breast cancer, responsive to chemotherapy, in the state as well as beneficial partnerships with cancer research organizations such as the Wistar Institute.
As a measure to ensure the VP’s promise is kept, the Harvard Medical and Business Schools said they will design and conduct cancer research called Coding for Cancer (C4C) Challenges, which will serve as an incentive for researchers to speed up their findings available to the public. The first C4C Challenge is the Digital Mammography DREAM Challenge in partnership with Sage Bionetworks estimated at $1.2 million.
Furthermore, the VP showed his disdain toward pharmaceutical companies’ tendency to unnecessarily hike their prices, yet another contribution to the obstacles the cancer communities has faced in a time of “breakthroughs”.
All in for the cause
Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton also showed her support for ‘cancer moonshot’ at the summit as she collaborated with the VP in his campaign. According to Biden, one of the most major avenues that would lead to the advancement of curing cancer depends on alliances formed between private and public sectors, who share the same goal in this mission.
John Kelly, senior VP at IBM Research and Cognitive Solutions stated that one of the greatest barriers to precise medicine today is a lack of synergy with cognitive computing which he believes has the “ability to ingest, understand and find patterns in massive volumes of disparate data,” Christian News Today reported.
Using such technology as a pillar to bolster various cancer-related studies, would together individual data that ordinarily might be missed had it not been for the sharing of such information, accessible to medical centers and patients alike.
At the same time, AP reported that cancer researchers and medical institutions have claimed to share the data already collected and often cooperate with themselves and government. They said that federal rules and regulations could make it difficult to develop treatments, which in turn takes longer to get them approved for patients’ use.
— Cancer MoonShot 2020 (@Moonshot2020) June 29, 2016
Leading causes of death in the United States
The focal point in medical development today is centered on curing cancer. However, that does not mean there are no other health matters killing people in the US.
According to a report by CNN, the most common causes of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer chronic lower respiratory-related diseases. Contained in this category, there are accidental causes such as car crashes and drug overdoses, and strokes.
It is great hope that the collaboration between the US government, private and public sectors contribute to advances in cancer curing research in the specified time.
Source: Columbus Telegram