Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Launching Cancer Moonshot, Biden Blames Politics

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Launching Cancer Moonshot, Biden Blames Politics

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - Vice President Joe Biden launched a "moonshot" initiative Friday to hasten a cure for cancer, aiming to use his final year in office to break down barriers in the medical world he says are holding back progress on eradicating the dreaded disease. Biden chose Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia as his venue to call attention to the institute's pioneering efforts on immunotherapy, in which a patient's own immune system is deployed against cancer cells. After touring the facility's Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics, Biden sat down with doctors, researchers and academics to discuss recent advances.

"You're on the cusp of some phenomenal breakthroughs, he said. "In my terms - not your medical terms - we are at an inflection point in the fight against cancer.

With barely a year left, Biden has yet to lay out exactly what he'll do that hasn't been done in the half century since President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer. But Biden said in addition to pushing for more funding, he would use his influence to "break down silos he says are pervasive throughout the sprawling and fragmented world of cancer

Since declaring his "moonshot in October, Biden has been searching for answers about what's holding back a cure, with all the meticulousness of a physician diagnosing disease.

His conclusion: The hold-up, in large part, lies in the cancer world itself.

Meeting with scientists Friday, Biden recalled his grandfather's adage that the world has three kinds of politics: church politics, labor politics and regular politics.

"I hope you're not offended, but there are four kinds of politics in America. There's cancer politics, Biden said. He deemed that particular flavor even more vexing than the rest.

Meetings with nearly 200 of them revealed a community rife with competition, territorialism and "stove-piping of information that's left researchers and their discoveries cloistered in their own corners, aides and others who met with Biden said. …

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