At the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, President Biden will speak about his vision for another American project: ending cancer as we know it.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is launching a new initiative to encourage biotech research and production in the US, the latest move by the White House to boost domestic industry.
Biden signed an executive order implementing the initiative on Monday and then, in remarks at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, will address how biotechnology can help fight cancer. On Wednesday, the Democratic president’s administration will host a summit and announce new investments from several federal agencies, according to a White House fact sheet.
The initiative will seek to boost biomanufacturing in pharmaceuticals but also in other industries such as agriculture, plastics and energy. A senior administration official declined to say how much funding will be announced on Wednesday.
Biofabrication processes can program microbes to make special chemicals and compounds, according to the fact sheet. Biofabrication can be used to create alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals, plastics, and textiles.
STUDY TO DETECT CANCER
Biden will highlight the new federally-backed study that seeks to validate the use of blood tests to screen for multiple types of cancer, a potential game-changer in diagnostic tests to dramatically improve early detection of cancers. He also plans other ads aimed at improving the lives of those with cancer.
His speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum comes as Biden seeks to rally the nation around developing treatments and therapies for the widespread diseases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks as the second-biggest killer. of people in the US after heart disease. Biden hopes to move the United States closer to the goal he set in February of reducing cancer deaths in the United States by 50% over the next 25 years and dramatically improving the lives of caregivers and people living with cancer.
“One of the most promising technologies has been the development of blood tests that offer the promise of detecting multiple types of cancer in a single blood test and really imagining the impact that could have on our ability to detect cancer early and more equitable,” White House coordinator Danielle Carnival told the AP. “We think the best way to get to where they are is to really test the technologies that we have today and see what works and what has a real impact on life extension.”
In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates that 1.9 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and 609,360 people will die from cancerous diseases.
The issue is personal for Biden, who lost his adult son Beau in 2015 to brain cancer. After Beau’s death, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which dedicated $1.8 billion over seven years to cancer research and was signed into law in 2016 by President Barack Obama.
Despite Biden’s attempts to recall Kennedy and his space program, the current initiative lacks the same level of budget support. The Apollo program garnered massive public investment: more than $20 billion, or more than $220 billion in 2022 inflation-adjusted dollars. Biden’s “moonshot” effort is much more modest and relies on private sector investment.
Still, Biden has sought to maintain the momentum of public health research investments, including advocating for the Advanced Health Research Projects Agency, modeled after similar research and development initiatives benefiting the Pentagon and the United States. intelligence community.
BIDEN ANNOUNCES RESOURCES AND PROGRAMS FOR CANCER STUDIES
This Monday, Biden will announce Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural director of ARPA-H, which has been tasked with studying treatments and possible cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases. He will also announce a new National Cancer Institute Fellows program to provide resources for early-career scientists studying cancer treatments and cures.
Experts agree that it is too early to say whether these new blood tests for detecting cancer in healthy people will have any effect on cancer deaths. There have been no studies showing that they reduce the risk of dying from cancer. Still, they say setting an ambitious goal is important.
Carnival said the NCI Study was designed so that any promising diagnostic results could be quickly put into widespread practice while the longer-term study, expected to last up to a decade, progresses. She said the goal was to get closer to a future where cancers could be detected through routine blood tests, potentially replacing more invasive and cumbersome procedures like colonoscopies and thus saving lives.
NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOMANUFACTURING INITIATIVE
President Biden will sign an executive order establishing the Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative to ensure that cutting-edge biotechnologies needed to end cancer as we know it and other innovations are developed and manufactured in the United States. This will save lives, create at-home jobs, build stronger supply chains, and lower prices for American families, even in times of global turmoil.
This initiative will increase the strength and diversity of the nation’s biomanufacturing capacity, expand market opportunities for biobased products through federal programs, drive research and development across all relevant agencies, streamline and harmonize appropriate regulation and will prioritize investments in biosafety research applied to biosafety.
Even without new advances, progress can be made in making care more equitable, said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, scientific director of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a group of elite cancer centers.
And any effort to reduce the cancer death rate will need to focus on the biggest cancer killer, which is lung cancer. Mainly attributable to smoking, lung cancer now causes more cancer deaths than any other cancer. Of the 1,670 daily cancer deaths in the United States, more than 350 are from lung cancer.
Lung cancer screening is helping. The American Cancer Society says such screening helped reduce the cancer death rate by 32% from its peak in 1991 to 2019, the most recent year for which numbers are available.
But only 5% of eligible patients are screened for lung cancer.
“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Roy Herbst, a lung specialist at the Yale Cancer Center.
Biden planned to urge Americans who might have delayed cancer screenings during the pandemic to seek them out quickly, reminding them that early detection can be key to avoiding adverse outcomes.
He also set out to highlight provisions in the Democrats’ health care and climate change bill that the administration says will lower out-of-pocket drug prices for some widely used cancer treatments. He will also celebrate new guarantees for veterans exposed to toxic combustion pits, covering their possible cancer diagnoses.
Dr. Michael Hassett, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said Biden’s goal of reducing cancer deaths could be achieved by following two parallel paths: one of discovery and one of making sure as many people as possible taking advantage of existing and preventative therapies. approaches.
“If we can address both aspects, both challenges, great strides are possible,” Hassett said.
In breast cancer, for example, many women who might benefit from a hormone-blocking pill never start therapy or stop taking it before the recommended five years, Hassett’s research has found.
“Those are big gaps,” Hassett said. “That is a treatment that is effective. But if a lot of people don’t take that drug, or if they take it but stop before the end of the course of therapy, then the benefits that the drug might offer don’t materialize.”
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