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#AMCCBS: The CRISPR Revolution, Cancer Moonshot, & More

March 10, 2023
Day 2-Final

On Thursday, March 9, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) welcomed its members in D.C. for the ACCC 49th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit (#AMCCBS)—the oncology conference dedicated to exploring cutting-edge solutions to persistent challenges and navigating the shifting cancer care landscape. Through general sessions, deep dive workshops, and many networking opportunities, almost 500 participants convened at #AMCCBS to collaborate, grow, and transform cancer care delivery as we know it to be today. 

Stories From CRISPR

Kevin Davies, PhD, previewed his keynote for ACCCBuzz—discussing the major highlights of his address. During his session at #AMCCBS, Dr. Davies referred to CRISPR as a “cutting-edge technology with miraculous benefits,” adding that “this is not just science fiction anymore. There are patients walking around today that have been cured by this technology. This is why we fund basic research.” Dr. Davies described the current healthcare landscape as being characterized by an “arms race for drugs,” thus technologies like CRISPR will be key in the future of delivering equitable, high-quality cancer care to patients everywhere.

Cancer Moonshot Update

“I want to start where the president and first lady usually start—hope. We don’t mean hope in the abstract. We mean hope grounded in reality,” said Danielle Carnival, PhD, coordinator for the White House Cancer Moonshot, as she opened her session. “Taking on cancer is one the life missions for the president and first lady because of the impact it has had on them, but it is a presidential priority because of the impact it has on every one of us—cutting short too many Americans’ lives. That is why the president and first lady relaunched the Cancer Moonshot program.”

According to Dr. Carnival, access and health equity are major components of the relaunched Cancer Moonshot Initiative. “The tools we have and those we develop along the way must reach all Americans,” she said. “To address inequities, we must ensure that every community in America—rural, urban, tribal, and everywhere else—has access to cutting-edge cancer diagnostics, therapeutics, and clinical trials.”

Dr. Carnival described these goals as a “shared agenda” that every member of the healthcare community must focus on achieving. “The president called on everyone to do their part: the scientific community to bring its boldest thinking to the front, and the medical community to improve their outreach and support for underserved people around the country,” she said, adding that “the private sector must step up and develop new treatments.” Further, Dr. Carnival highlighted President Biden’s desire for patients with cancer to share their stories. “The president respectfully called on people living with cancer, their caregivers, family, and those who have lost someone to share their perspectives and experiences and to keep pushing for progress,” she said. Patients with cancer and their loved ones can share their experiences on the Cancer Moonshot's website.

Dr. Carnival then discussed the goals of the first ever Cancer Cabinet:

  • To set up priority actions to close the screening gap
  • To understand environmental and toxic exposures
  • To decrease the impact of preventable cancers
  • To bring cutting-edge research through the pipeline to patients and their communities
  • To better support patients and caregivers.

Dr. Carnival went on to discuss the work that has been done within the Department of Veteran Affairs: “1.5 million veterans have already received screening for toxic exposures as of January, and in November, the VA [Veteran Affairs] announced it would expedite veteran’s claims for cancers associated with toxic exposure,” she said. The commitment of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) were also highlighted. “The FDA is moving forward on making sure that we have regulations in place that make cigarettes and tobacco products less attractive and addictive,” Dr. Carnival said. “The NCI launched new efforts to connect clinical trials more extensively to underrepresented groups.”

Dr. Carnival wanted attendees to leave with two primary messages. “The first is we need to bring the cancer care system to people,” she said. “And the second is, so much is being asked of a family with a cancer diagnosis—cancer brings a financial, emotional, and medical burden. We need to find better ways to support them.” Dr. Carnival concluded by discussing the primary points from President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address, regarding the Cancer Moonshot. These points include:

  • Bringing America’s Cancer Moonshot mission into the 21st century—an initiative centered around the reauthorization of the National Cancer Act.
  • Providing patient navigation to support every American facing cancer.
  • Tackling smoking, the single biggest driver of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

“The president often says that his dad had [an] expression, ‘Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.' I am glad to say the budget [which was published on Thursday, March 9] will show the value the President places on the Cancer Moonshot,” Dr. Carnival said. “America will lead by the power of its example—this is the framework in which [the] Cancer Moonshot sits.”

Diving Deep into Oncology Care Challenges 

ACCC hosted eight deep dive workshops throughout the day, allowing invited expert facilitators and attendees to partake in interactive conversations to identify challenges its members are experiencing today and help generate practical solutions to mitigate or resolve those challenges. Areas of focus included: 

  • New care delivery models
  • Business intelligence and artificial intelligence technology solutions 
  • Precision medicine 
  • Payer-driven challenges 
  • Research and clinical trials 
  • Staffing models and workforce strategies 
  • Patient engagement. 

Discussion from these workshops will be captured and used to develop a comprehensive report for ACCC-members post-conference. Keep a look out later this year for this final report in the Association’s peer-reviewed journal, Oncology Issues

Read more about #AMCCBS with ACCCBuzz's coverage of Wednesday and Friday's events.

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