American Cancer Society and NCI Join Forces Against
I was pleased to take part in last week's workshop on Childhood Cancer Targeted Therapeutics, cosponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and NCI. The meeting featured representatives from government, industry, academic research institutions, advocacy groups, philanthropic groups, and others. We came together to respond to the urgent and eloquent appeals of pediatric patient advocacy groups, such as the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and the Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy.
We are all concerned that despite the overall progress against pediatric cancers, current treatment is not sufficiently effective for about 25 percent of children diagnosed with cancer, and for those who are cured, there are risks of long-term side effects related to the curative treatment, including second cancers later in life. Future advances will not only require continued technological and scientific investment in childhood cancer research, but also a renewed commitment to public-private partnerships.
Building on a foundation of past investments, the research community is now poised to make considerable progress in identifying molecular targets that can be modulated for therapeutic advantage in adult cancer. We must keep in mind, however, that the financial incentives behind pharmaceutical research for adult cancer do not apply to childhood cancer because of the relatively smaller number of patients.
In a recent Institute of Medicine report, Making Better Drugs for Children with Cancer, public-private partnerships were identified as being "central to addressing this deficit, as neither the public sector nor the private sector working alone has sufficient resources or incentives to accomplish the necessary research and development activities."
Both ACS and NCI view this workshop as a first step toward new public-private partnerships that will help spur the development of molecular-targeted agents for childhood cancers. I would like to thank NCI's Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach and Dr. Harmon Eyre, ACS executive vice president of research and medical affairs, for organizing and leading this workshop. The next step will be to develop a set of successful collaborative efforts to stimulate and ensure target identification, credentialing, and validation.
The success of this effort is going to take the combined resources and coordination by ACS, NCI, and other groups involved. ACS, through its grassroots constituencies, can advocate for legislative change for new incentives leading to enthusiastic participation by biotech and pharmaceutical firms. We will do our part to bring an end to suffering and death due to childhood cancer.
Dr. Jerome W. Yates