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White House Unveils New Initiatives to Advance Cancer Moonshot

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – To help advance Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative, the White House today unveiled several new initiatives aimed at, among other things, providing researchers with access to liquid biopsy datasets, developing approaches for precision oncology, and innovating new diagnostics for the clinic.

Through one initiative, called the Blood Profiling Atlas, pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, universities, and research centers will help aggregate and make available raw datasets from circulating tumor cell (CTC), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), and exosome assays, along with related clinical data and sample preparation and handling protocols from 13 different clinical studies.

Study data and technical expertise will be contributed by various companies including Eli Lilly, which will share its methods for sample preparation, next-generation qPCR, next-generation sequencing for exosome profiling, as well as data related to disease characterization through gene expression analysis; Personal Genome Diagnostics, which has agreed to provide data and protocols for ctDNA profiling generated using its PlasmaSelect platform; and Guardant Health, which will contribute pre-analytical and genomic data generated from 500 lung cancer patient samples analyzed with its Guardant360 liquid biopsy test.

Also contributing to the initiative is Thermo Fisher Scientific, which has agreed to provide ctDNA data generated in studies using its liquid biopsy assays and NGS platforms; Novartis, which will provide protocols and data from experiments evaluating different PCR- and NGS-based methods for ctDNA analysis; and Foundation Medicine, which will share data it has generated from analytic validation studies of the FoundationACT ctDNA assay.

In a second collaboration, the National Cancer Institute will coordinate with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to build a sustainable model for maintaining cancer genomic data in the cloud for use by cancer researchers through NCI's Genomic Data Commons and Cancer Genomics Cloud pilot programs. These cloud collaborations will provide cancer researchers with secure access to high-quality cancer genomic and associated data. 

In another project, the Department of Defense is launching a longitudinal study with the aim of gaining new understanding of the biological underpinnings of cancer, and developing new approaches for precision oncology. DoD researchers will use data housed within the department's cancer registry and serum repository to identify new linkages between pre-diagnostic biological markers and various types of cancer. DoD will also work with the Environmental Protection Agency to link results from the study with the Environmental Quality Index to further evaluate the environmental factors contributing to cancer development.

CosmosID said today that it will also participate in the Moonshot by providing researchers with access to its automated bioinformatics platform, MetaGenID. The platform will be used to support five cancer microbiome research studies to understand how different microbiomes contribute to the development of specific cancers. Data and results from all five studies will be made freely available to the research community, the company added.  
Atlanta's Global Center for Medical Innovation and T3 Labs announced they will collaborate with the NCI to develop innovative diagnostic devices. GCMI and T3 will create a development pathway that will highlight promising diagnostics and put them in a position to gain investments and move to the clinic. Over the next five years, the partners hope this collaboration will demonstrate how to double the speed of moving novel cancer diagnostics from bench to bedside.
Meanwhile, Memorial Sloan Kettering said it has launched the Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets to Eliminate Disparities program (IMPACTED). This program will expand the research use of MSK IMPACT genomic sequencing for cancer patients receiving care at NYC Health + Hospitals centers in Brooklyn and Queens. MSKCC hopes that sequencing tumors of patients who have traditionally been underrepresented in genomic profiling studies will lead to the identification of differentially expressed molecular drivers that could explain some of the cancer disparities experienced by minority and underserved populations.  
The Children's Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium, the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium, and Seven Bridges also announced a Moonshot-related project: the release of Cavatica, a data analysis platform designed to facilitate the rapid integration of data from multiple diseases affecting children, including cancer and other rare diseases like congenital disorders, epilepsy, and autism. Cavatica will immediately make more than 24 datasets available to researchers, and these datasets will be interoperable with the Genomic Data Commons and other NIH data repositories. 
The nonprofit Open Commons Consortium is also joining in by building a pilot biomedical data commons called the Contribute & Change (C2) Cancer Commons. it is aslo developing a pilot platform called the Cancer Commons Hub, where multiple systems can connect to share cancer data. The consortium believes the C2 Cancer Commons and the Cancer Commons Hub will more than double the molecular, medical imaging data, and clinical annotation data currently available to researchers. The C2 Cancer Commons is based on the same open-source software that powers the NCI Genomic Data Commons, but will extend this capacity by hosting complementary datasets submitted by C2 members, the consortium added. So far, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Johns Hopkins University, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Northwell Health, and University of Chicago are participating.