White House report outlines push to bolster cancer research

US President Barack Obama (right) and Vice President Joe Biden release the Cancer Moonshot Report in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct 17, 2016.
US President Barack Obama (right) and Vice President Joe Biden release the Cancer Moonshot Report in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct 17, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US Vice President Joseph Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative to speed the develop of cancer treatments has made some important strides such as increased information sharing among researchers but still faces challenges in many areas, according to a report on Monday (Oct 17).

The White House is still seeking about US$700 million (S$972 million) from Congress for the project. With Democratic President Barack Obama leaving office in January, it is also unclear how much of the initiative will continue under a new administration.

Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc have committed to create cloud storage for the effort, according to the report that summarizes the work completed so far and outlines a path forward over the next five years.

Ride-sharing services Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft will help patients get to the doctor and to clinical trials.

"I'm going to devote the rest of my life to working on this, and I think we're perilously close to making some gigantic progress," Biden told reporters.

The US$1 billion moonshot project was announced by Obama during his State of the Union address in January. Since then, Biden- whose son Beau died last year at age 46 from brain cancer- has announced multiple investments and collaborations in support of the project.

The Cancer Moonshot initiative has also spurred Defense Department to use artificial intelligence to analyse its collection of tissue from tumours to look for patterns.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has launched a pilot programme to cut in half the time to review certain cancer therapy patent applications from an average of about two years to less than 12 months.

Obama praised Biden for his leadership on the issue and said his administration was laying the groundwork for future presidents to continue the fight against cancer.

"While we are going to be leaving soon, what I think we are going to be able to leave behind is an architecture and a framework" for advancing cancer research, Obama told reporters after his meeting with Biden.