Dylan Scott in STATNews:
The experts are recommending the creation of a new national network that would allow cancer patients across the country to have their tumors genetically profiled and included in a new national database — one of several recommended steps that they say would significantly speed the progress of cancer research in the United States. The panel is also urging the creation of a network to coordinate clinical trials using immunotherapy, the promising new treatment that turns the body’s immune system against the disease. The recommendations are part of a report issued Wednesday by an expert panel advising the White House in its cancer moonshot initiative. It was formally accepted by the National Cancer Advisory Board Wednesday morning. The tumor network would help scientists better identify which treatments work for which cancers in which patients, the panel said. As scientists become more aware of the many different kinds of cancer, and turn increasingly to more personalized treatments, they see the profiling the genetics of individual tumors as crucial. Patients would be connected with the hospitals and cohorts across the country that profile tumors and those institutions would share the collected data. The network would both aid in enrolling specific patients in clinical trials that show promise for their cancer by letting them “pre-register” for trials, the panel said, and allow researchers to make broader observations about the genetic makeup of different cancers and about which treatments are successful in fighting them.Researchers have been clamoring for more tumor profiling since the moonshot was first announced by the White House. There is at least one caveat, however: As the panel itself notes, there is currently limited evidence about whether tumor profiling actually leads to better care, though that is attributed at least in part to the limited ability of researchers to collect the large amounts of data needed to prove its effectiveness.So the experts argue that the proposed network “would have a transformative impact on cancer research and care, potentially leading to precision oncology being integrated into everyday care in doctors’ offices for all patients.”
The second proposed network centers on another area that many researchers believe holds great promise, though the scientific evidence is still catching up: immunotherapy.