“Bold Action To Defeat Cancer”

MD Anderson launches Moon Shots Program to reduce cancer deaths

(RxWiki News) Around the world, about 100 million people will lose their lives to cancer over the next decade. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has a bold initiative to change those numbers – dramatically.

MD Anderson has announced the launch of its new Moon Shots Program, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech about putting a man on the moon.

At a conference announcing this bold initiative, MD Anderson President, Ronald A. DePinho, MD, said, "This is a pivotal moment in MD Anderson's history. It is a great day for cancer patients as we seek to dethrone the emperor of maladies."

The Moon Shots Program is a stellar effort to reduce the number of deaths in eight forms of the disease over the next decade.

"There are many great oncologists - call one."

Dr. DePinho said that "the Moon Shots Program signals our confidence that the path to curing cancer is in clearer sight than at any other time in history," said Dr. DePinho in a press release.

"Humanity urgently needs bold action to defeat cancer. I believe that we have many of the tools we need to pick the fight of the 21st century,” Dr. DePinho said.

“Let's focus our energies on approaching cancer comprehensively and systematically, with the precision of an engineer, always asking ... 'What can we do to directly impact patients?'"

The Moon Shots Program is going to be a multi-pronged onslaught against cancer – combining the resources and expertise of academia and industry. This “disruptive paradigm” will be run and managed in a business-like fashion with one objective:

Turn scientific discovery into effective tools for patients as quickly as possible.

This means accelerating the mission to go from the lab to the bedside to get the patients the tests, devices and medications they need to beat cancer.

The Moon Shots Program will initially target:

  • acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome;
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia;
  • melanoma;
  • lung cancer;
  • prostate cancer, and
  • triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers - two cancers linked at the molecular level.

Six moon shot teams have been formed to examine the state of the research and science across the entire cancer path – from prevention to successful living after successful treatment.

Each of these teams will receive funding - $3 billion over the next 10 years - to enable them to complete their multi-faceted tasks.

Resources available to the teams will include the latest technologies available to undertake this work.

Lewis Foxhall, MD, vice president for Health Policy at MD Anderson, told dailyRx News, "I do think this is a tremendous opportunity to bring to bear a highly focused and coordinated attack on cancer. I am especially pleased that we will integrate targeted cancer control efforts where that is appropriate."

"The cancer control components will help us apply proven interventions to at risk populations. Further research on how to do this better and more effectively in diverse settings will better enable us reduce the burden of these diseases," Dr. Foxhall said.

Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, was initially concerned that this initiative might be over-promising. He no longer has that concern.

Dr. Brawley told dailyRx News in a telephone interview, "I think they're promising things they actually could deliver to the scientific community."

He continued, "And I think any effort to try to increase funding for research, try to raise morale and try to increase enthusiasm is a good thing," 

President of the American Association for Cancer Research, Frank McCormick, PhD was involved in selecting the moon shots.

"Nothing on the magnitude of the Moon Shots Program has been attempted by a single academic medical institution," Dr. McCormick said in a press release.

"Moon shots take MD Anderson's deep bench of multidisciplinary research and patient care resources and offer a collective vision on moving cancer research forward," said Dr. McCormick who is director of the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Center.

The program will officially get under way in February, 2013.

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Review Date: 
September 21, 2012