President Joe Biden is attempting to “supercharge” his cancer moonshot initiative, which aims to develop new treatments and cut death rates for patients diagnosed with the disease, he said during a Monday speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
His ultimate goal is to cut cancer death rates by at least 50% in the next 25 years, while also turning “more cancers from death sentences into chronic diseases people can live with,” Biden said Monday.
“For too many cancer patients and their families, instead of hope, there’s bewilderment,” he said.
In the past 25 years the death rate from cancer has fallen more than 25%, though it still remains the No. 2 cause of death in America right behind heart disease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Actions Biden listed to meet the initiative’s goal include making cancer research data more available and making it easier for patients to enroll in clinical trials through Trials.Cancer.gov.
He also mentioned that scientists are looking at whether mRNA vaccine technology used in COVID-19 shots could be used to prevent cancer by stopping cells when they first arise.
In 2015, Biden’s son Beau died from brain cancer. A year later, President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law, which allocated $1.8 billion to fund cancer research. Through the law, the Food and Drug Administration created an Oncology Center of Excellence to evaluate new treatments faster, according to the White House.
The funding supported new research into therapies and health disparities, trial networks to discover new drugs and efforts on childhood cancer, according to the White House.
On Monday, Biden also announced he appointed biomedical executive Renee Wegrzyn to lead the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, an agency that aims to test, scale and make research breakthroughs more widely available.
“But it’s not enough to invent technologies that save lives,” Biden said. “We need to manufacture advanced biotechnologies here in the United States.”
Biden also issued an executive order directing the federal government to ensure biotechnologies invented in the U.S. are manufactured domestically.
“Today’s action is going to ensure that America leads the world in biotechnology and biomanufacturing, creating jobs, reducing prices, strengthening supply chains so we don’t have to rely on anywhere else in the world,” he said.