Biden touts ‘Cancer Moonshot’ on anniversary of JFK’s Boston speech

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BOSTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden signed orders on Monday to pump more government dollars into the U.S. biotech industry, promoting his drive to create new treatments and lower the death rate from cancer. Cancer “doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Biden said at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library, on the 60th anniversary of JFK’s “Moonshot” speech that urged Americans to lead in space exploration.

Biden drew a parallel between the former president’s goal of landing on the moon and his own goal of cutting cancer death rates in half over the next 25 years. read more

“Today I’m setting a long-term goal for Cancer Moonshot: Bringing together American ingenuity, we got involved like we did to get to the moon, but we actually cured cancer… once and for all,” Biden said.

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He said the research could lead to medical breakthroughs, including a vaccine to prevent cancer or a blood test that could detect cancer at an annual physical.

The executive order allows the federal government to direct funds for the use of microbes and other biologically derived resources to make new foods, fertilizers and seeds, as well as to make mining operations more efficient, administration officials said.

The order “directs the federal government to ensure that biotechnologies invented in the United States of America are manufactured in the United States of America,” Biden said.

US President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One as it leaves for Washington from New Castle, Delaware, U.S., on September 11, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/ file photo

Biomanufacturing has been used to generate cancer treatments, including those derived from plants or the use of reengineered immune cells.

The White House did not provide details on how much money would be available, where it would come from or how it would be allocated. More details are expected at a White House summit on the issue on Wednesday.

The US federal government is already a funding source for biotechnology research and development (R&D) through the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Agriculture, and other agencies. Overall US funding for R&D has declined as a percentage of gross domestic product since a peak in the 1950s, a trend Biden has vowed to reverse.

Potential applications range from biodiesel fuels made by Renewable Energy Group to COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech. (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) or genetically modified seeds made by Corteva Inc. (CTVA.N).

Biden also named Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, a longtime science advisor and most recently at biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings Inc, (DNA.N) as the first director of the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, a US government-run biomedical research group.

Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46, something the president has said helps inform his passion for the project.

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Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Nandita Bose; Edited by Heather Timmons and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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