August 9, 2016

A big effort to accelerate cancer research

Kim Christiansen

AURORA - When the word "moonshot" is attached to a project, the understanding is clear. It will be ambitious, exploratory and hopefully groundbreaking. Most recently, the word moonshot has been linked to cancer.

During his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama announced the establishment of a new Cancer Moonshot aimed to provide more therapies to more patients, while improving the prevention and detection of cancer.

The core of this mission involves sharing information; giving researchers and research institutions datasets to compare genomics and clinical therapies. The goal is to foster discoveries in cancer research and increase the success of treatments.

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is part of the ORIEN (Oncology Research Information Exchange Network) project. This is a big data effort that shares cancer patient information (medical history, cancer tissue, DNA) for research and clinical trials. Patients in the program have a greater opportunity to be matched in trials of targeted “smart” drugs.

The 500th patient recently enrolled in the program through the CU Cancer Center. Dr. Virginia Borges explains with more than 11 cancer centers participating in ORIEN, it is bigger than one research institution, it is a national cause. “It’s not just patients here in Colorado. Its patients across the country bonding with us, to say, let’s figure things out.”

The CU Cancer Center is still enrolling patients. Anyone interested must be 18 years old and diagnosed with cancer.

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