The Biden administration on Thursday announced the first cancer-focused initiative under its advanced health research agency. The goal is to help surgeons more easily differentiate between healthy tissue and cancerous cells.
The Precision Surgical Interventions program, which is being launched under the administration’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, will aim to significantly improve cancer outcomes over the next few decades.
In a Thursday statement announcing the initiative, President Joe Biden called the investment “a major milestone in the fight to end cancer as we know it.” The initiative is part of Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative.
The hope is that the investment will help doctors develop tools that will remove all cancerous cells while avoiding healthy nerves and blood vessels.
Biden said he eventually wants the cancer death rate to be cut in half.
“Harnessing the power of innovation is essential to achieving our ambitious goal of turning more cancers from death sentences to treatable diseases and — in time — cutting the cancer death rate in half,” he said.
“As we’ve seen throughout our history, from developing vaccines to sequencing the genome, when the U.S. government invests in innovation, we can achieve breakthroughs that would otherwise be impossible, and save lives on a vast scale. ARPA-H follows in that tradition of bold, urgent innovation,” Biden said, using an acronym for his Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health initiative.
“What’s true is that many cancer treatments still start with surgery,” Arati Prabhakar, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, told The Associated Press. “So being really smart and attacking and developing new technology to make that first step better could really revolutionize how we are able to treat cancer for so many Americans.”
Formed in 2022, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The military-focused agency played a central role in developing GPS and the internet.
The “cancer moonshot,” as well as the ARPA-H more broadly, are part of the Biden administration’s unity agenda, which “aims to bring people from both parties together to get big things done for the American people,” Biden said in the statement.
In September, ARPA-H will host an event in Chicago for interested researchers with the intent of quickly authorizing projects.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.