• Michael Misialek, MD

Cancer Moonshot Road Map Presented

The recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on 10 scientific approaches most likely to make a decade’s worth of progress against cancer in five years under the Cancer Moonshot were accepted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Many of these bold endeavors will require the unique skills of pathologists.

The NCI press release states the following:

"In January 2016, during his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot “for the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families we can still save.” The NCI’s scientific road map outlined by the BRP is one component of the Cancer Moonshot’s broader effort focused on accelerating progress on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Under the Vice President’s leadership, a full set of recommendations for leveraging federal investments, private sector efforts, patient initiatives and more under the mission will be announced later this fall.

The 10 transformative approaches poised for acceleration are:

  1. Engage patients to contribute their comprehensive tumor profile data to expand knowledge about what therapies work, in whom, and in which types of cancer.

  2. Establish a cancer immunotherapy clinical trials network devoted exclusively to discovering and evaluating immunotherapy approaches.

  3. Identify therapeutic targets to overcome drug resistance through studies that determine the mechanisms that lead cancer cells to become resistant to previously effective treatments.

  4. Create a national ecosystem for sharing and analyzing cancer data so that researchers, clinicians and patients will be able to contribute data, which will facilitate efficient data analysis.

  5. Improve our understanding of fusion oncoproteins in pediatric cancer and use new preclinical models to develop inhibitors that target them.

  6. Accelerate the development of guidelines for routine monitoring and management of patient-reported symptoms to minimize debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment.

  7. Reduce cancer risk and cancer health disparities through approaches in development, testing and broad adoption of proven prevention strategies.

  8. Predict response to standard treatments through retrospective analysis of patient specimens.

  9. Create dynamic 3-D maps of human tumor evolution to document the genetic lesions and cellular interactions of each tumor as it evolves from a precancerous lesion to advanced cancer.

  10. Develop new enabling cancer technologies to characterize tumors and test therapies.

In addition to the 10 scientific approaches, the road map has specific, special projects. These include a demonstration project to test for Lynch syndrome, a heritable genetic condition that increases risk of several types of cancer, to improve early detection and prevention; the establishment of a nationwide pediatric immunotherapy clinical trials network to enhance the speed with which new immunotherapies can be tested in children; exploring patient-derived organoids; and “microdosing” devices to test drug responses in living tumors.

The Cancer Moonshot scientific road map creates a vision for the future of cancer research and treatment in which:

  • Patients contribute their data, obtain genomic profiling information about their tumor, learn about what treatments might work best given their tumor’s genomic profile and find other relevant information, including clinical trials that may be appropriate.

  • Researchers can identify possible targets for the development of new treatments and preventive interventions, including immunotherapies, as well as learn more about how to avoid or counter drug resistance.

  • Doctors have access to information that better predicts treatment outcomes and helps control patients’ symptoms and side effects."

There has never been greater enthusiasm and optimism among researchers and the scientific community. The coming years will certainly be transformative in the fight against cancer and pathologists will play a defining role.

Source: NCI

#pathology #cancermoonsho #precisionmedicine

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