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Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 09/21/2012

MD Anderson’s ‘Moon Shots’ effort draws on America’s dreams of space to find a cancer cure


This Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 photo shows buildings of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The nation's largest cancer center is launching a massive "Moon Shot" effort against eight specific forms of the disease. (Pat Sullivan - AP)

Correction: An earlier version of this post originally cited 11.3 million cancer survivors by 2015 and 100,000 individuals dying worldwide from cancer in this decade. The 11.3 million survivors figure is U.S. specific, and the number of individuals expected to die from cancer in the next decade is 100 million worldwide. This version has been corrected.

When President John F. Kennedy said in his 1962 address that the United States should tackle challenges, particularly sending a man to the moon, “because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win,” he did not mention finding a cure to cancer. But Kennedy’s call for a mission to the moon is now the inspiration behind a new program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The Center announced the launch of a multi-billion-dollar program to expedite the process of bringing research results to patients and, in so doing, significantly reduce the number of cancer-related deaths. As ABC’s News’s Lara Salahi reports, the program launched after a year-long review by a panel of medical experts from across the country.

The program will tackle a select group of cancers, among them leukemia (AML/MDS and CLL), triple-negative breast and ovarian, lung, melanoma and prostate cancers. The eight cancers are spread across six teams, each of which has a series of goals focused on identifying those at risk of the particular cancer, increasing survival rates, improving quality of life and implementing new methods of diagnosis and treatment whenever possible, among other benchmarks.


ABC “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts on Aug. 20, 2012. (Donna Svennevik - AP)
The Moon Shots program, which is scheduled to begin in February, could cost as much as $3 billion over the next three years, according to a Thursday release, with funds coming from philanthropy, competitive research grants, commercialization of discoveries and the center’s earnings.

By 2015, there are expected to be approximately 11.3 million cancer survivors in the U.S., with an estimated 100 million people around the world expected to die from cancer this decade, according to the release.

Myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, has received particular attention since “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts was diagnosed with the disease. Roberts, who announced her diagnosis in June, received a bone marrow transplant on Thursday.

MD Anderson will continue its research of the full range of cancers, saying, via its Thursday release, that the Moon Shot program will not “interrupt” — but rather ”help support” — current research.

“History has taught us that if we put our minds to a task, the human spirit will prevail. We must do this – humanity is depending on all of us,” said MD Anderson President Donald DePhinho via the release.

(via ABC News)

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By  |  03:00 PM ET, 09/21/2012

Categories:  Health, Technology, Research, Video

 
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