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The Harvard Business School Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator, a multidisciplinary initiative that uses collective impact to advance high-priority opportunities in precision medicine, announced today that five leading cancer organizations have come together to share best practices, engage patients, and create synergies to advance precision medicine opportunities across cancers. The organizations include LUNGevity Foundation, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The Accelerator has begun testing the “Right Track”, a framework to help patients optimize their treatment journey by connecting them with patient-focused organizations. Cancer patients are often overloaded with information and don’t know what steps to take with their treatment. Market research supported by the Accelerator identified consistent gaps in knowledge and actions among patients with five types of cancer. The Accelerator developed the Right Track using this market research and will be testing the program with the goal of closing these knowledge gaps. The Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator brings together diverse, best-in-class leaders and health care stakeholders to develop a business framework to drive and disseminate solutions to advance precision medicine. The Accelerator focuses on four workstreams -- Direct to Patient, Data & Analytics, Clinical Trials, and Venture and Investment – all critical elements of precision medicine. The Direct to Patient workstream is supported by marketing innovators from leading consumer companies such as Marriott International, Rent the Runway, Keurig Green Mountain, Reebok, Rue La La, and leading tech companies, to help the five cancer organizations create the kind of direct relationships with patients that precision medicine needs to foster. “The Accelerator uses ‘collective impact’ – a framework based on the idea that tackling complex, systematic issues like cancer can only be achieved when diverse stakeholders work toward a shared goal,” said Lori Marcus, Chair of the Accelerator’s Direct to Patient workstream. “By bringing together leading cancer organizations and some of the world’s top consumer companies that have built loyal customer followings, we can help close knowledge gaps and increase patient engagement across cancers.” Read the full press release.
LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused organization, announced the funding of two research teams that will focus on lung cancer interception: catching precancerous cells and blocking them from turning into cancer cells. These awards are the first-ever Stand Up To Cancer awards focused on the early detection and interception of lung cancer and build on LUNGevity’s eight-year direct investment in critical early detection lung cancer research. "Finding lung cancer early, when it is most treatable, is a critical step to saving thousands of lives," said Andrea Ferris, President and CEO of LUNGevity, "especially since currently only 15% of patients are diagnosed at this stage. Our long-term strategic focus and investment in finding better ways to detect, diagnose, and now intercept lung cancer in its earliest stages is strengthened by this collaboration with SU2C and the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative. It is our goal to find noninvasive, widely available diagnostic and early detection tools that will dramatically change outcomes for people with lung cancer.” The interdisciplinary and multi-institutional awards include a Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team, and a Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team. SU2C-LUNGevity Foundation-American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging, & Molecular Evaluation (InTIME) Funding: $5 million Leader: Avrum Spira, MD, professor of medicine, pathology and bioinformatics, and director of the Cancer Center at Boston University-Boston Medical Center Co-leader: Steven Dubinett, MD, associate vice chancellor for research at UCLA and director of the lung cancer research program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center The Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team will develop diagnostic tools, such as nasal swabs, blood tests, and radiological imaging, to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are benign lung disease or lung cancer. To protect against recurrence of disease that has already been successfully treated, new blood tests will help identify patients at the earliest stages of recurrence, enabling timely interventions such as immunotherapy. "We plan to develop technology that can, in a very sensitive way, pick up the small amount of DNA that might be present in the blood of someone who’s harboring a lung cancer deep within their lung tissue – a noninvasive way of measuring a person’s risk of having lung cancer," Dr. Spira said. SU2C-LUNGevity Foundation-American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Blood-based Early Interception of Lung Cancer Funding: $2 million Leader: Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, and director of the Center for Innovation in Early Cancer Detection (CIECD) at Massachusetts General Hospital Co-leader: Maximilian Diehn, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine The Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team will develop a lung cancer interception assay (LCIA) that can be used in conjunction with low-dose CT scans, based on blood-based assays that examine circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA. After completing pilot testing as part of this Translational Research Grant, the team plans to move the LCIA forward to larger, prospective clinical trials. "It’s extremely frustrating that we’re not technically able to find lung cancer earlier in the majority of patients,” Dr. Sequist said. “We need to change the paradigm that we use to identify patients so that they are found early enough to offer them curative treatment. If we really want to save more lives from lung cancer, we have to exponentially improve our diagnostics." LUNGevity is the only lung cancer nonprofit with a programmatic focus on funding early detection research, to find lung cancer when it is most treatable. Currently, only 15% of people with lung cancer are diagnosed in the earliest stages, resulting in a 5-year survival rate of only 17.7%. These projects expand on LUNGevity’s eight-year investment in early detection research with the goal of developing an effective, widely available, noninvasive way of finding lung cancer early in all populations. Click here to read the full press release.