Moon shots mission escalates to confront six more cancer types
MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program has expanded its targets, adding some of the most intractable cancers to its campaign to more rapidly convert scientific discoveries into life-saving advances.
The innovative program’s transdisciplinary team-science approach and transformative professional platforms now pursue meaningful progress against B-cell lymphoma, glioblastoma (brain cancer), HPV associated cancers (caused by the human papilloma virus), high-risk multiple myeloma, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
These join the original moon shots launched in 2013 to address breast/ovarian cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, lung cancer, melanoma, myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia and prostate cancer.
“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,” says MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, M.D. “After the first two years, 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.”
All 12 moon shots have planned or opened novel clinical trials of new immunotherapies, drugs that free the immune system to attack tumors, as well as targeted therapies and drug combinations.
In the longer term, collaboration with moon shots platforms and basic scientists will heighten understanding of the molecular details of cancers, treatments and how the two interact. Ten platforms provide expertise and technology in the areas of cancer prevention and control, drug development, and big data-driven patient care and research. Many moon shots include prevention and early detection projects.
External scientific review
The six new moon shots began life as pilot projects that were chosen by external reviewers during the summer of 2014 from among 14 proposals. Leaders received initial funding to plan and develop their ideas a year ago.
Both pilots and inaugural moon shots were again peer-reviewed this summer by the program’s external Scientific Advisory Board, which scored all 12 based on criteria that included potential to measurably reduce cancer mortality, breadth and depth of multidisciplinary teams and quality of scientific plans. The board’s feedback helped mold priorities and funding for fiscal year 2016.
SO FAR, THE MOON SHOTS PROGRAM HAS RECEIVED $290 MILLION
IN PRIVATE PHILANTHROPIC COMMITMENTS.