MD Anderson Applauds State of the Union Call to Cure Cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is grateful Vice President Joe Biden has inspired the creation of a national cancer moonshot, and we applaud President Barack Obama’s commitment to support this collective fight to end cancer.

“This is the golden era of cancer research. Our team of world-leading cancer experts, along with many others in the field, continue to confer with Vice President Biden about the scope and potential of a national cancer moon shot,” said MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, M.D. “We are encouraged by his leadership and look forward to working together on this global humanitarian endeavor. Patients and families around the world are counting on us to end cancer.”

In the fall of 2012, MD Anderson created the Cancer Moon Shots Program to accelerate declines in cancer mortality across several major cancer types. By building a new organizational paradigm of multidisciplinary teams and platforms focused on execution, these pioneering efforts have taught us that knowledge available today can be converted into new preventive measures and life-saving therapeutic advances for cancer patients here and around the world. 

“Knowledge and technology have converged, enabling researchers to make a decisive assault on these deadly diseases. We also can bend the arc of cancer through concerted efforts in prevention and early detection, as up to half of all cancers can be prevented and catching cancer at its earliest stages offers markedly improved survival,” says DePinho. “The efforts of Congress to provide the strongest funding for the National Institutes of Health in more than a decade will make a significant impact on the future of the fight to end cancer.”

Rapid progress in curing advanced cancers is being made by harnessing the formidable capability of MD Anderson’s world-leading and largest clinical trials engine in cancer to test many targeted therapies, including those that reawaken the immune system. Of its 1,200 active clinical trials involving more than 11,000 patients per year, MD Anderson’s Cancer Moon Shots Program has launched 125 immuno-oncology trials across all major cancer types involving nearly 6,000 patients. These trials have yielded practice-changing advances with improved long-term survival for a number of deadly cancers. Leveraging the world’s largest clinical trials program for cancer and strategic alliances with major pharmaceutical and biotech companies, MD Anderson is rapidly expanding several hundred additional immune-therapy trials, which will include deep analysis of genomic, immunological and clinical data to inform the use of these drugs in the right patient populations.

These big data analyses are led by computational biologist Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., and the father of modern immunotherapy, Jim Allison, Ph.D., who invented immune checkpoint blockade to treat cancer and leads the immunotherapy platform. Based on our early findings, we anticipate these concerted efforts will impact significantly on cancer deaths for several major cancer types in the next five to 10 years.

“Unleashing the immune system on many types of cancer will be a key development in this transformational moment in cancer research and care. MD Anderson’s moon shots, supported by 10 platforms with leading expertise and technology under the direction of Dr. Giulio Draetta, as well as significant support from philanthropy, NIH grants and other sources, are helping us in Making Cancer History®,” DePinho said.