Ahluwalia on the Goals and Impacts of Cancer Moonshot


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Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, discusses the progress and initiatives of the Cancer Moonshot program.

Since its launch in 2016, the White House's Cancer Moonshot initiative has aimed to facilitate, optimize, and advance research and collaboration in the field of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In an interview with Targeted OncologyTM, Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, MBA, FASCO, chief scientific office, chief of medical oncology, deputy director, and Fernandez Family endowed chair in cancer research at the Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute, discusses the progress that the program has made so far and what the next steps are.


0:09 | The Cancer Moonshot program has been going on for the last 6-7 years and has made tremendous progress in the areas of immunotherapy. But there's ongoing work that is making sure that we build on some of the strides. We've made initial successes in immunotherapy, and there is focus now on immunotherapy, but also translational aspects to it. Because we do know that 30-50% of patients with lung cancer, head and neck cancer, melanoma, and a number of other cancers get durable and great benefit from immunotherapy, but there's still a proportion of patients who do not. And now [the] emphasis is, how do we build on this?

0:50 | Then there's also ongoing work to improve progress for difficult-to-treat cancers like pancreatic cancer. So there is an effort in trying to understand the microenvironment of pancreatic cancer. Patients like to see the physicians who look like them. So we do know that the minorities are underrepresented in medical schools or in medical oncology. So there is a big push to enhance or increase that component.

1:18 | There is also a big focus on childhood cancers. A lot of them beat cancer, but then because they have a long lifespan, how can we ensure not only that we are ensuring cures for our patients, but also how are we ensuring care for our patients? Also, there are efforts to minimize the side effects of cancer treatments, so picking the right drug for the right patient with minimal side effects is some of the purviews of such a program.

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