SYN, Policy

Cancer Moonshot 2020 rolls out new pediatric consortium

Some view this approach as already outmoded, is too optimistic to be realistic, and wrongly states cancer as a single disease – when it results from a multitude of factors and presents in countless ways.

Patrick Soon-Shiong

The Cancer Moonshot 2020 – the U.S. government-sanctioned effort to speed up the development of cures for cancer through immunotherapy – just announced a new pediatric consortium.

Ten health systems are involved in this new consortium, which aims to bridge the various silos in cancer therapeutics development. Notably, the consortium is opening up a large cloud infrastructure to allow data sharing among academic institutions and industry alike.

The Cancer Moonshot, backed by President Obama and Vice President Biden – and spearheaded by NantWorks’ Patrick Soon-Shiong – has actually faced its fair share of criticism already. Some view this approach as already outmoded, is too optimistic to be realistic, and wrongly states cancer as a single disease – when it results from a multitude of factors and presents in countless ways.

The consortium addressed that concern in its statement, writing:

1. There is increasing recognition that cancer is an extremely heterogeneous disease, caused by any one of a multiple number of genetic mutations, with hundreds and even thousands of molecular alterations presenting within each pediatric cancer patient and therefore demands of a more personalized, precision approach. This pediatrics consortium will lead and use next-generation precision clinical genomic-proteomics enabling doctors and patients to get the most comprehensive molecular diagnosis in the market today.

2. While significant progress in cancer treatment has been made, there remains significant fragmentation across the healthcare ecosystem, with pharmaceutical drug development occurring in silos with limited ability to share clinical information efficiently, especially cutting-edge immunotherapy treatment options and patient outcomes to guide in treatment decisions. Consortium participants have recognized that the collaboration among pharma, oncology and others in the medical and scientific community, combined with leading whole genomic and proteomic sequencing analysis and the huge breadth of immunotherapy clinical trials provided via the Cancer MoonShot 2020 program, is a much needed means to reduce the barriers to accelerated progress in the war on pediatric cancer.

3. Cancer MoonShot 2020 provides access to a national, robust and scaled cloud infrastructure enabling the ability to share data in real time and to provide rapid access to breakthrough knowledge to all. Academic institutions now have the capability to share complex pan-omic data tied to phenotypic medical records and clinical outcomes. Such a comprehensive system, combined with multiple pharma participation has not been available to any of the individual children cancer centers before on such a national basis and this infrastructure will accelerate clinical trial and drug development, establishing the National Pediatrics Cancer Learning System to accelerate the next-generation of care for all.

The founding members of the pediatric consortium are:

  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago IL
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, GA, Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center
  • Children’s Hospital of Orange County, CA
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, PA
  • Duke Department of Pediatrics – Duke University School of Medicine, NC
  • Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, MA
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, UT
  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital, AZ
  • Sanford Health, SD