The AACR Applauds President Biden’s Commitment to End Cancer as We Know It

Joe Biden: State of the Union

AACR President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, sent the following letter to AACR members after President Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 1, 2022.

Dear AACR Member,

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) applauds President Biden for his vision to renew the Cancer Moonshot and take action to improve cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

During last night’s State of the Union Address, President Biden highlighted important initiatives that have enormous potential for transforming cancer care. The President’s plan builds upon his 2016 Cancer Moonshot initiative and is focused on screening, early detection, and prevention, and specifically on reducing cancer death rates by 50 percent within the next 25 years. Thanks to advances made every day by cancer researchers such as yourselves, this is an inspiring, achievable goal.

In addition, President Biden’s proposed Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) would provide the funding for high-risk, high-reward projects that will drive discoveries and breakthroughs in the battle against cancer.

In response to the President’s stated goals during the State of the Union, the FDA plans to issue three key guidances to industry regarding cancer clinical trials that are aimed at facilitating continued advances in cancer prevention, detection, and therapeutics for patients. Specifically, these guidances would: 1) provide recommendations for including older adult patients, aged 65 years and older, in the clinical trials of drugs for cancer treatment; 2) provide advice on designing and conducting trials with multiple expansion cohorts that allow for concurrent accrual of patients into different cohorts to assess safety, pharmacokinetics, and antitumor activity of first-in human cancer drugs; and 3) provide suggestions on how to design master protocols that deliver answers more quickly and efficiently than traditional clinical trial design.

FDA is also continuing to promote enrollment practices that would lead to clinical trials that better reflect the population most likely to use the drug if the drug is approved, primarily through broadening eligibility criteria. A previously released FDA guidance recommended approaches that sponsors of clinical trials intended to support a new drug application or a biologics license application could take to increase enrollment of underrepresented populations in their clinical trials.

President Biden also spoke to important initiatives for veterans who have been diagnosed with rare cancers associated with toxic airborne chemicals released from burn pits. Burn pit exposure, a result of the practice of incinerating waste and hazardous materials at military sites including in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been linked to a growing number of uncommon cancers in veterans. The AACR supports these important steps to ensure that all veterans have access to the health care that they deserve and have earned and for further research to better detect and treat these cancers.

The AACR stands ready to work with the Biden Administration to ensure that these timely and important initiatives are successfully implemented. Thank you very much for the work that you do every day as it is vital to achieving this goal.

David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR