The Cancer Moonshot's Blue Ribbon Panel has published 10 recommendations to help the initiative make 10 years of cancer research progress in half that time. The proposed projects include a cancer “atlas” documenting tumor evolution and a patient network to sequence tumors and recruit trial participants.

In response to President Obama's Cancer Moonshot, a Blue Ribbon Panel has released a report outlining 10 recommendations they say will help meet the initiative's goal: a decade's worth of progress against cancer in 5 years (available at

The panel, which included nearly 150 scientists, oncologists, patient advocates, and industry leaders, brainstormed in working groups and also considered more than 1,600 ideas from the public. “We were looking at what science was ripe that would make a really big difference,” says co-chair Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, of Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, MD.

On the research front, the group called for more studies of drug resistance as well as how fusion oncoproteins cause pediatric cancers. They also proposed public–private collaborations to speed the development of new technologies, such as high-resolution tumor imaging and implantable drug-delivery devices.

To improve patient care, the panelists recommended the creation of guidelines on managing treatment-related side effects. They also called for retrospective analyses of banked tissue samples from people who received standard therapy, and the development of an online “atlas” to document tumor evolution: how tumors, surrounding cells, and their immediate environment respond to treatment and changes in immune responses over time. In addition, the group recommended expanding the use of proven strategies to detect cancer early—or prevent it entirely—and building a clinical trials network that would focus on immunotherapy.

Another recommendation called for patients to be key contributors to the Moonshot by joining a nationwide network that would enable them to obtain a genomic profile of their cancer and “preregister” for future trials.

Finally, the report proposed a “national cancer data ecosystem” to build upon and link the cancer data centers already in existence. For example, the American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) Project GENIE is connecting genomic data with patient outcomes from multiple institutions to help match future patients with the best treatments for their cancers. Meanwhile, the American Society of Clinical Oncology's CancerLinQ is collecting and disseminating clinical information.

The NCI, which is spearheading the Moonshot, plans to begin some projects in 2017 to meet these recommendations; others will likely take longer to start, says acting deputy director and panel co-chair Dinah Singer, PhD. Federal funding is key: The NCI received $195 million for Moonshot efforts as part of the 2016 fiscal year budget, which it used to support precision medicine research. Obama has asked for an increase of $680 million to the NCI's budget next year, plus $75 million for the FDA, to further advance this ambitious initiative. “We need everyone's help to make Congress aware that this is a high priority,” says Jaffee.

There is reason to be hopeful for congressional support, says Jon Retzlaff, MBA, MPA, managing director of the AACR's Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs. The Senate appropriations committee has already proposed a $2 billion increase for NIH funding, he points out.

Even if some of the initiatives aren't funded, the panel's work has brought the cancer community together to develop clear priorities, says Singer.

If the recommendations are successfully implemented, Retzlaff says, there should be more targeted cancer therapies and greater patient engagement in the research process in 5 years' time. “The bottom line of the Moonshot is … to save lives and improve the outlook for cancer patients and their families,” he says. –Amber Dance

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