US Vice-President Joe Biden has said the search for a cure for all forms of cancer should be treated with as much importance and urgency as the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
During a speech at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, he told scientists how their work could “change the world,” but was critical of obstacles involved for clinical trials. During his speech he said: “We were worried about Ebola. We were able to aggregate tens of millions of dollars and the entire US military because the World Health Organization couldn’t handle it.”
“That’s the kind of urgency we need with regard to cancer.”
Mr. Biden lost Beau, his son, to brain cancer on 30 May 2015 at the age of 46. The seriousness of his son’s illness had not been made public, and Biden has reduced his public workload in order to spend more time with his son. A statement at the time stated: “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words.”
US President Barack Obama allocated $1bn (£700 million) towards Cancer Moonshot 2020 – cancer research – in January, with Biden leading the campaign. The vice-president publicly stated that he would have been “wanted to be the president that ended cancer as we know it because I believe it is now possible.”
At the Society’s annual conference of 32,000 people, Mr. Biden told the room that his son had taken part in the most recent pioneering clinical trials, but pointed out that “96% of people” miss out, claiming new measures were needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Mr. Biden claimed progress towards a cure could be much faster if scientists worked closely together. “Imagine if we … shared the data behind breakthroughs so that the field as a whole can move forward faster and avoid unnecessary redundancy,” the 73-year-old said at the Chicago, US, conference, afterwards telling scientists that “the whole world is looking to you.”
One of the goals of the Moonshot programme is to change the way cancer is treated by developing a vaccine before 2020 for cancers of all stages. A video below explains the process.