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Data sharing to serve as key weapon against cancer

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08.03.2019

Donald Trump proposed that - starting from 2020 and within 10 years after - USD 500 million is spent on research concerning childhood cancers. Data sharing concerning cancers developing in children will provide a basis to the context of the implementation of the programme. Researchers are concerned that the initiative will be carried through at the expense of other parts of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) budget.

Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania and Grace Eline - a 10-year-old girl who fully recovered from brain cancer - said that many pediatric cancers had not been exposed to any novel therapies throughout decades, stating that we would ask the Congress for USD 500 million to fund that critical and life-saving research.

The additional amount of USD 50 million a year represents an increase by 11% in relation to the amount NCI and other institutes intended to spend. The Trump's announcement came as a surprise to the personnel at NCI and cancer patients. The representatives of this organisation claim that details are still being formulated, while Ned Sharpless ? NCI Director in Bethesda (Maryland) ? stated it during a conference call he had with researchers and advocates that data sharing would constitute an important foundation for the new initiative. 

The NCI spokesperson stated that the amount would allow for better exploitation of the potential of existing data, as well as the development of new knowledge that might contribute to the discovery and development of novel treatment methods for childhood cancers.

Still, some pediatric oncologists are not so sure whether the data sharing programme is an optimal way to spend the initial USD 50 million. 

Crystal Mackall at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, underlines that whereas data sharing is definitely of great importance, the community is probably already dealing with it in the best way possible.

Experts estimate that efforts aiming to create a genetic data pool of childhood cancers may turn out to be less efficient than in the case of cancers affecting adults.

Source: sciencemag.org

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