Cancer experts unveil wishlist for US government ‘moonshot’

From Nature:

Advisors to the US Cancer Moonshot Initiative have produced a wide-ranging laundry list of research targets for the project — even as its funding remains uncertain.

The 10 recommendations released on 7 September include the launch of a national clinical-trial network specifically targeted at therapies that harness the immune system and the creation of a 3D cancer atlas to catalogue how a tumour interacts with neighbouring normal cells.

The advisory panel — whose members include leading cancer researchers, doctors and patient advocates — also called for new cancer technologies, including advanced imaging techniques and drug-delivery devices; a focus on proteins that drive many paediatric cancers; and studies of how tumours become resistant to cancer treatments.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has not yet determined how much funding would go to each of the initiatives, or how the projects will be structured.

The White House launched the moonshot in January to double the pace of cancer research over the next five years. But the programme is stuck in funding limbo as Congress hashes out the next year’s budget. The US National Institutes of Health requested US$680 million for the moonshot for the 2017 fiscal year, which starts on 1 October. Despite vocal support from members of both political parties, lawmakers have said they need more detail on the programme before they can fully fund it.

If that does not happen before Congress sets the government’s 2017 budget, full funding may have to wait until the 2018 fiscal year, says Matt Hourihan, director of the research and develop­ment budget and policy programme at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC.

The recommendations from the moonshot’s advisory panel provide the information that lawmakers want, says Jon Retzlaff, managing director for science policy and government affairs for the American Association for Cancer Research …

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