In the next five years, the U.S. hopes to conduct a full decade’s worth of cancer research.
The bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which President Obama signed into law December 13, sets aside $1.8 billion to speed up cancer research.
“We are already closer than a lot of folks think” to finding a cure for cancer, Obama said in what is likely his last bill-signing ceremony.
The new law will:
- Invest in promising new therapies like immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to target and kill cancer cells.
- Harness big data and artificial intelligence in research.
- Rely on pledges from ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to help patients keep their doctor’s appointments with affordable transportation.
- Focus more on prevention and detection efforts.
The legislation also commits funds for research on brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
“The science is here. The time is right,” said Elizabeth Jaffee of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The administration’s Cancer Moonshot brought scientists, businesses and patients together to develop new systems of research and care. The president announced the effort in his State of the Union Address in January 2016 and selected Vice President Biden to lead it.
Both Obama and Biden have lost loved ones to cancer. Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. The 55-year-old president recounted that his mother did not live to his age, dying of cancer in her early 50s.
“It’s not always easy to remember, but being able to honor those we have lost in this way, and to know that we may be able to prevent other families from feeling that same loss, that makes it a good day,” Obama said.