New hope that “Science” will lead us to curing cancer

MD Anderson Cancer Center launches $3B “Moon Shot” program to significantly reduce cancer deaths in the next decade

So much of the medicine today is based on science and luck through trial and error. M.D. Anderson president Dr. Ronald DePinho is betting big on science and technology with an unprecedented bold effort to align multidisciplinary teams toward discovering a way to beat cancer. The advances in basic science (nanotechnology), life sciences (human genome), social sciences (education) and data sciences (big data analytics) in the past 10 years has been breath taking. There is no one group or person that can understand each of these existing, new and emerging fields of science. The multidisciplinary teams bring new hope that cancer cures that have long eluded researches will be discover in this decade.

Basic Science

The advances in nanotechnology has begun to revolutionize so many components of the world economy from materials, energy, electronics and essential make almost everyting smaller. It addition to advancing and launching many new fields of “Omics”, nanotechnology is helping biotechnology deliver medicine to cancer cells, monitors inside the body, produce new implants and new detection products.

Life Science

The days of one cure all blockbuster drug is over. While medicine has brought us advances from trial and error, it has reminded us how different we are by the adverse effects on some people. One day, we will have personalized medicine that produces treatment entirely related to you (DNA, Microbiome) the target (Mutated gene, pathogen).

  • “Omics” – human genome and our DNA defined by 3 billion parts, our microbiome which are cells that do not carry our dna and represent 10 times more cells in our bodies as the ones with DNA
  • Brain Activity – Functional MRI machines monitor blood flow activity in the brain to see how we think and react. This science has been used to enabled prosthetics to respond to brain thoughts.
  • Stem Cells – advances in creating embryotic stem cells from human skin cells. This has promise for new cures by growing new healthy nerve, heart, liver and other cell with our own DNA.

Social Science

New research is showing the impact of the total person. We can no longer focus solely on clinical components.  Behavior, economics, home life, social interaction, care givers, researched options and having a sense of purpose can each impact health outcomes. Stress activates human hormones that can impact health like high cholesterol. Human desire to feel connected, have control, a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment can become can impact recovery like a good medicine. While the increase of hip and knee replacements drive up healthcare cost, they can have a profound affect on overall prosperity and reduce other costs. If people feel isolated and lonely, or give up hope, their health deteriorates causing them to use a lot of expensive healthcare services.

Data Science

Like nanotechology, Data Science “known as Big Data” is having an impact on almost every component of our world. Data Scientists are able to take massive data from many different places and develop valuable new insight from correlations that are often unexpected. This new insights are plowed back into the many other fields or science and technology to accelerate the pace of discovery.

MD Anderson’s Crosss-functional Approach

The MD Anderson “Moon Shot” $3B Cancer program is trying to leverage 12 areas of science and technology into cross-functional teams to focus directly on leukemia, melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer:

  • “Adaptive Learning in Genomic Medicine” – enable clinicians and researchers to compare real-time patients with the best treatment based on massive amounts of genome research
  • Big Data – Capture, storage and processing of massive amounts of data including the human genome sequencing machines (3 billion parts)
  • Cancer Control and Prevention – what community based education, screen and early detection works best
  • Center for Co-Clinical Trials – Use of mouse or cell models of human cancers to test new drugs or drug combinations and discover the best therapy
  • Clinical Genomics – a data bank of tumor specimens to test various treatments
  • Diagnostics Development – development of new diagnostic tests
  • Early Detection – Using imaging and proteomic technologies to discover biomarkers to discover early stage cancer
  • Institute for Applied Cancer Science – develop effective targeted cancer cell drugs
  • Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy – Analysis of genomic abnormalities in patient tumors to direct them to the best treatments and clinical trials
  • Massive Data Analytics – a computer infrastructure that develops and uses computational algorithms to analyze large-scale patient and public data
  • Patient Omics – centralizing collection of patient biospecimens (tumor samples, blood, etc.) to profile genes and proteins (genomics, proteomics) and identify mutations to guide personalized treatment
  • Translational Research Continuum – a framework to facilitate efficient transition of candidate drug to human clinical trials