Biden Administration Announces New Cancer Research Initiative

By   |  July 27, 2023

By Steven Reinberg HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2022 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, July 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The Biden administration on Thursday launched a new research program aimed at helping doctors to better distinguish cancer cells from healthy tissue during surgery.

The program will fall under the purview of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The agency was first formed in March 2022 as part of Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative.

"Surgical procedures are often the first treatment option for the approximately 2 million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year," the White House said in a statement announcing the new program. "However, current surgical technologies do not allow doctors to easily and fully distinguish cancer cells from normal surrounding tissue in the operating room. This can lead to repeat surgeries, a more difficult recovery, and cancer recurrence, as well as higher health care costs."

But Biden noted that new approaches are on the horizon.

"Researchers and innovators across the country are pioneering new techniques and technologies to make cancer removal surgeries more precise, accurate and achievable," Biden added in a statement. "It’s an exciting horizon in cancer research and development that could save and extend many lives. Now, through ARPA-H, we will fund promising new approaches to removing cancer surgically."

The new initiative could improve cancer treatments and lead to new breakthroughs, Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told the Associated Press.

"What’s true is that many cancer treatments still start with surgery," she said. "So, being really smart and attacking and developing new technology to make that first step better could really revolutionize how we are able to treat cancer for so many Americans."

Prabhakar added that usually federal research money goes to university or government labs, but ARPA programs will search more broadly.

"The mission is to reach for things that aren’t that obvious or feasible today -- and to do that, you have to take risks," Prabhakar said. "The process allows you to explore things that could have a bigger impact if they do work and very often what I have seen is that the overall program succeeds even though some of the individual pieces don’t succeed."

ARPA has placed an open call for other research objectives, Danielle Carnival, coordinator of the White House Cancer Moonshot program, told the AP. ARPA’s work is a "central pillar" of the administration's plans to meet its goal of cutting cancer deaths.

"I would expect some really great ideas and new projects to come out of that call," Carnival said.

More information

Visit the White House for more on the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

SOURCES: White House, news releases, July 27, 2023; Associated Press