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Beyond the boundaries: The moon shots to cure cancer

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Published on Sep 20, 2012

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announces the launch of the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.

The program, initially targeting eight cancers, will bring together sizable multidisciplinary groups of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers -- two cancers linked at the molecular level.

The Moon Shots Program takes its inspiration from President John Kennedy's famous 1962 speech, made 50 years ago this month at Rice University, just a mile from the main MD Anderson campus. "We choose to go to the moon in this decade ... because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win," Kennedy said.

"Generations later, the Moon Shots Program signals our confidence that the path to curing cancer is in clearer sight than at any previous time in history," said Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson's president.

Six moon shot teams, representing the eight cancers, were selected based on three rigorous criteria: the current state of scientific knowledge across the cancer continuum from prevention to survivorship; the strength and breadth of the assembled team; and the potential for measurable success in reducing cancer deaths.

With "intent to cure" as the shared purpose, each moon shot team will focus on personalized treatment; informed prediction and real-time assessment of the effect of those therapies; effective prevention and risk-management strategies; significant advances in diagnostics and early detection; and reduced treatment-related side effects that are detrimental to patients.

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