Can Collaboration Cure Cancer?

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What would it look like if researchers, clinicians, and diagnostic and drug developers created an unprecedented model of collaboration and data sharing to solve one of the country's biggest challenges: cancer?

The topic of cancer collaboration has made headlines since January when Vice President Joe Biden was put in charge of the Cancer Moonshot, and most recently, the unveiling of 10 key recommendations developed by the initiative's Blue Ribbon Panel.

As the country rallies behind the vital Cancer Moonshot, all of us at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network are working concurrently to address one of the nation's deadliest cancers, pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and is anticipated to become the second around 2020. The disease kills more people than breast cancer and has a five-year survival rate of just 8 percent. Nationally, only 4 percent of pancreatic cancer patients enroll in clinical trials.

On behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I am very proud to announce a revolutionary initiative called Precision Promise, the first large-scale precision medicine trial designed to transform outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer.

We have committed a minimum initial investment of $35 million over the first four years, not including drug costs, and expect to enroll thousands of patients.

Some of the issues with the current clinical trial system are that trials are designed with a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't account for patient diversity, and important genetic data and clinical trial results can be fragmented across various institutions and drug developers.

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So we have designed Precision Promise to address these problems and bring together the field's key stakeholders, including clinicians, researchers and diagnostic and drug developers, in an unprecedented way to advance outcomes for patients.

Not only will Precision Promise address the pancreatic cancer clinical trial system, it will also mandate data sharing and collaboration among all involved parties. This way, scientific findings are gathered and disseminated to the research community openly and expeditiously.

I remember when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 17 years ago, and he was given no options. We want to make sure that patients and their families have options that put the patient at the center of the decision-making. So, Precision Promise will investigate multiple treatment options under one clinical trial design and utilize principals of precision medicine to determine the unique molecular features of each patient's tumor.

Instead of looking for the right patient for a clinical trial, we are designing the right clinical trial for each patient.

The sub-studies of Precision Promise will be designed to be nimble and dynamic, so a patient can shift to another option quickly without wasting precious time between clinical trials. The system will constantly evolve the treatment options by integrating current research and the most up-to-date science and knowledge available.

Starting in the spring of 2017, participating patients will enroll in Precision Promise at a local Clinical Trial Consortium site. I am proud to share the 12 initial Precision Promise Clinical Trial Consortium sites selected to participate in this groundbreaking initiative.

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Ultimately, our goal is to include the entire pancreatic cancer scientific and medical community in this initiative, and we look forward to joining forces with many more researchers, clinicians and diagnostic and drug companies as this effort gets off the ground.

I am so thrilled to be a part of launching this revolutionary initiative. This is a clear example of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's comprehensive and relentless strategy to double survival by 2020, and why it's imperative we raise $200 million over the next five years.

In the spirit of the Cancer Moonshot and Precision Promise, I look forward to collaborating with supporters and donors from across the country to accelerate progress in the pancreatic cancer community. We have no time to waste. Join us.