Inspired by America’s drive generations ago to put a man on the moon, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has launched an ambitious and comprehensive action plan, called the Moon Shots Program, to make a giant leap for patients – to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.
The nation’s No. 1 hospital for cancer care, with its unparalleled resources and capabilities, is uniquely positioned to accelerate the end of cancer. It’s closer than you think. What’s learned from these initial cancer “moon shots” will ultimately lead to cures for all types of the disease.
Moon Shots Program which brings together sizable multidisciplinary groups of researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on eight cancers initially was recently launched at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). They’ll work as part of six moon shot teams:
• Acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
• Lung cancer
• Prostate cancer
• Women’s cancers - Triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian
Dr. Mien-Chie Hung, Academician of the Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and Vice President for Basic Research and Chair of Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology of MDACC, is selected with honor because of his expertise in the field and will lead the women’s (breast and ovarian) cancers moon shot team with 2 other co-leaders.
Nearly half a million women in the United States are affected by breast and ovarian cancer each year. Unfortunately, many will be diagnosed with aggressive forms of these cancers. Women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer or triple-negative breast cancer face a much higher mortality rate. Triple-negative breast cancer is more likely to strike minority women and those under age 50.
These two advanced cancers share similar genetic causes, giving us a unique opportunity to make significant progress in treatment and prevention of both diseases.
MD Anderson’s breast/ovarian cancer moon shot is a coordinated effort to attack two deadly cancers at the same time by combining the latest treatment technology and genetic knowledge to identify the most promising new treatments and move them into a clinical setting in a faster, more efficient way.
• Increase the five-year survival rate of women with triple-negative breast cancer or high-grade serous ovarian cancer
• Identify women and families at risk for these cancers and implement programs to decrease the chance they will develop cancer
• Change the upfront treatment to improve the outcomes of women with these cancers
• Within the first year, implement clinical trials of promising new therapies
• Develop new imaging technologies that can detect aggressive lethal breast tumors at an early stage
• Convert temporary responses to durable therapy by identifying and targeting drug resistance mechanisms
Because triple-negative breast cancer and high-grade serous ovarian cancer have known genetic causes, there’s a chance to affect the incidence of these diseases with prevention and screening programs. Fortunately, both breast and ovarian cancer have long-term and successful public awareness and education campaigns, but more comprehensive outreach is needed.
Our goal is to change public policy regarding these two advanced and deadly cancers by:
• Establishing standard genetic testing for all women with triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian cancers
• Identifying and offering testing and screening for relatives of all patients with these cancers, who have positive results on genetic testing
• Expanding Internet-based outreach and education efforts demonstrating the value of these approaches worldwide
• Educating primary care providers and patients worldwide
MD Anderson has an extensive tissue bank with thousands of samples from breast and ovarian cancer patients. In addition, we have compiled data from both cancer and non-cancer patients in long-term studies of high-risk women and have those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations, which are commonly found in both triple-negative breast cancer and high-grade serous ovarian cancer. These valuable resources, combined with analysis from our highly experienced pathologists, have put MD Anderson at the forefront of research on ovarian and breast cancers.
We will create a collaborative dynamic that allows us to quickly share our data and knowledge with our MD Anderson colleagues and with other researchers throughout the world. The infrastructure will bring together data from a variety of systems, allowing for real-time analysis.
Early detection of breast and ovarian cancers is vital to ensuring successful treatment and prolonging survival. Our research efforts will focus on finding new tumor biomarkers that can help predict who will be affected and to determine the best treatment plan for those diagnosed with these diseases.
Our research goals include:
• Evaluating nearly 100 new approaches that can be used to increase the likelihood of detecting early-stage ovarian disease
• Developing a test that will help determine which ovarian cancer patients would benefit from reductive surgery
• Exploring an exciting new nanotechnology approach as a way to deliver therapies in patients whose breast cancer is resistant to treatment
• Use animal models and 3-D imaging to study large numbers of potential targets for new drugs
More information is available at: http://cancermoonshots.org/