Cancer “moonshot” handed over to EU Commissioners

Final research proposals in five areas aiming to deliver solutions to major challenges for Europe have been handed over to the European Commission this week. The proposals, known as missions or moonshots, partly inspired by NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, have been developed by a board of experts including academics, policymakers, business people and citizen representatives. Cancer is one of the mission areas, with Early Detection Programme Co-Lead Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald a member of the Cancer Mission Assembly Board.

The missions could receive hundreds of millions of euros per year from Horizon Europe, the forthcoming 7-year, €81 billion research program, and additional funds from other EU programs.

The aim of the cancer mission, entitled Conquering Cancer: Mission Possible is to avert more than 3 million additional premature deaths over the period 2021–2030.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Professor Walter Ricciardi, President of the Italian National Institute of Health and chair of the cancer mission board, said: ‘Europe has a quarter of all cancer cases and less than 10% of the world population. The number of new cancer cases diagnosed is projected to increase by 25% in Europe by 2035. If we don't act now, of course, this could be a serious problem.’

Among the cancer board's 13 recommendations are starting an EU-wide research programme that can use patient genomic data to better understand an individual’s cancer risk, and creating a virtual, federated European Cancer Patient Digital Centre so that cancer patients and survivors can share their healthcare data to improve personalised treatments for others.

‘The mission is not only research,’ said Prof. Ricciardi. ‘The mission is to support member states, it’s to improve the lives of individual citizens.’

The four other mission areas are: adapting to climate change; carbon-neutral cities; healthy waters; and soil health.