MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program has added several types of cancer to its innovative program’s transdisciplinary team-science approach, including B-cell lymphoma, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma, high-risk multiple myeloma, human papillomavirus-associated cancers, and pancreatic cancer. These six new programs were chosen from among 14 proposals and received funding to develop initial research. They then were subjected to rigorous peer-review from cancer centers and biopharma experts to determine the quality of the scientific research plans and their potential to make an impact in lowering cancer rates. The six are to be integrated into the program in 2016.
MD Anderson developed the Moon Shots Program to overcome funding hurdles in the translational research phase of new therapies, and therefore facilitate the transition between scientific discovery and life-saving advances. “Our multidisciplinary, goal-oriented moon shots programs, enabled by the deep expertise and advanced technology of our execution-oriented platforms, are poised to accelerate declines in mortality for some of the most common types of cancer,” Ronald DePinho, MD, MD Anderson president, stated in a press release, “As the Moon Shots Program matures, we’re transitioning from the foundational phase to the results phase, and some moon shots already are making practice-changing advances in the clinic and in cancer prevention and control.”
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Since starting work in 2013, this program has managed to develop an algorithm to help with clinical decision-making on treatment strategies for ovarian cancer, collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the transition of promising new drugs to a clinical trial phase, and develop cancer prevention educational efforts supporting new Texas laws banning the use of tanning beds and electronic cigarettes by minors. All 12 moon shots have allowed or planned several novel clinical trials of new immunotherapies along with targeted therapies and drug combinations directed at cancer-specific genetic abnormalities.
Two of the ten platforms of expertise driving these programs, the Big Data and Adaptive Patient-Oriented Longitudinal Learning and Optimization (APOLLO) platforms, are developing patient sample and genomic data collection in a way that will innovate and integrate patient care and research. Dr. Andy Futreal, co-leader of the Moon Shots Program, commented in the news release, “MD Anderson’s research and clinical expertise and its large number of diverse patients, combined with these new capabilities to gather, safely store and analyze data, provide a unique opportunity. We’re in a powerful position to drive science in a way unlike anyone else.”