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President Barack Obama has proposed spending almost $1 billion on cancer research over the next two years with the goal of the U.S. finding a cure. He’s asked Congress for $755 million in 2017’s fiscal year and plans to spent $195 million in 2016 to kickoff the “moon shot” to fight cancer.
The plan was made public at his State of the Union address to combat the number two killer in America by better coordinating all research efforts. The majority of the funding will go to the National Institutes of Health, which is in charge of all expenses for conducting medical research.
“In fact, just today we announced a new $1 billion jumpstart to make sure some of the best work going on has the funding that it needs,” said Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the lead on this program.
“Because ultimately, as the federal government, our job is to break down silos and bring people together who are doing the most cutting-edge work,” added Biden.
Cancer death rates have fallen slightly in the past few years thanks to decreasing smoking rates, better prevention, screening, and treatment. Yet, cancer has replaced heart disease as the number one cause of death in 21 states and will kill nearly 600,000 Americans this year.
According to the American Cancer Society, “For most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet, and physical activity.”
Approximately one third of all cancer cases can be blamed on inherited genes, so new treatments work by attacking the precise genetic mutations that allow tumors to grow and spread.
Patients receive targeted therapy that’s based on faulty cancer-causing genes, rather than where the tumors started growing. The results have luckily gone against those of traditional chemotherapy.
The “moon shot” program will specifically focus on enhanced early detection and technology, prevention and cancer vaccine development, cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy, genomic analysis, enhanced data sharing, and pediatric cancer.
The program’s goal is “to compress a decade’s worth of cancer research into five years and eventually end cancer,” stated officials. This starts with getting more cancer patients into clinical trials to test the latest therapies. (Currently, only 5% of cancer patients are enrolled.)
“Such spending should be able to accomplish much more than in 1971, when then-president Richard Nixon declared war on cancer,” said Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and President of the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Jose Baselga.