Cancer Moonshot Initiative Receives $240 Million Boost

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On September 13, during a meeting of the Cancer Cabinet, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced a $240 million investment to accelerate advances in cancer-related projects, with the aim of improving treatments and reducing cancer mortality over the next 25 years. The funding, which was awarded through the newly launched Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), will go to researchers and innovators investigating effective approaches to cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship.

According to the White House, the projects include:

  • Developing new tools to detect cancers at an early stage
  • Producing innovative approaches to visualize cancer cells during surgery to improve patient outcomes through the Precision Surgical Interventions program
  • Pursuing potential treatment strategies, such as directing bacteria to kill cancer cells
  • Designing devices to deliver treatments directly to cancer cells to treat tumors more effectively.

In addition to these new projects, ARPA-H has partnered with Emory University to study how messenger RNA may be harnessed to treat cancer as well as other diseases.

Besides the $240 million investment, the White House also announced new programs for smoking prevention and cessation, including resources for underserved communities to reduce cancer health disparities and a webpage from the Environmental Protection Agency about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Summary of New Cancer Moonshot Projects

  • ARPA-H is partnering with the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and other agencies to develop a biomedical data fabric toolbox to advance progress in cancer research.
  • ARPA-H’s nationwide health innovation network, ARPANET-H, will be deployed to accelerate clinical trials for patients with cancer and other diseases.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s division for Biological and Physical Sciences, in partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory, will fund projects to advance cancer research and technology while in orbit on the ISS.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has partnered with the NCI to develop a two-way exchange process to collect more data on cancer’s effect on patients treated at VA facilities.
  • The VA is also expanding its National TeleOncology program to more than 30 sites. The program makes highly specialized cancer care, such as virtual tumor boards, more easily available to veterans, especially those living in rural areas.

In addition to these efforts, the Cancer Moonshot has new commitments from several nongovernmental organizations, including:

  • The American Cancer Society, which is creating an oncology professional navigator curricular and certification program to support people with cancer
  • The HealthWell Foundation, which is providing more than $300 million in 2024 to underinsured patients with cancer to help offset out-of-pocket medication costs
  • The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, which is launching an effort to make emotional brain training services available for stress management and smoking cessation
  • CVS Health, which is expanding an existing smoking cessation program in a dozen states
  • Komodo Health, a health data and technology company, which is developing a platform to measure cancer disease burden, map cancer outcomes, and illuminate disparities in cancer care
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which plans to invest more than $17 million to bring clinical trials and treatment innovations to diverse and underrepresented communities nationwide
  • TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, which aims to increase participation in cancer clinical trials for Black women by 2025 by committing to reaching 350,000 Black women with information on trials and motivating 25,000 into joining clinical trial portals
  • xCures, a health-data technology platform, which is launching a study to enhance the collection and organization of comprehensive data on diffuse midline glioma (DMG) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). In addition, the DIPG DMG Research Funding Alliance is launching an online hub—DIPG One Link—to support pediatric patients with brain caner from diagnosis through treatment and grief support
  • The Focused Ultrasound Foundation, which is committing more than $3 million over the next 3 years for clinical trials exploring focused ultrasound as part of cancer treatment
  • The National Brain Tumor Society, which is launching a comprehensive effort to advance quality-of-life research for patients with brain tumors
  • The American Academy of Dermatology, which is launching a nationwide initiative to increase skin cancer awareness and early detection among firefighters
  • The National LGBT Cancer Network, which is creating tailored tobacco cessation materials that will be readily available to LGBTQIA+ communities.

According to a White House statement: “Overall, the Biden Cancer Moonshot has announced roughly 50 new programs, policies, and resources and secured more than 100 commitments from private companies, nonprofit organizations, patient groups, and others to advance its goals and the President’s Unity Agenda.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.