Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cancer Research Budget Cuts

The latest issue of Science has this News of the Week piece entitled "Tight Budget Takes a Toll on U.S.-Funded Clinical Trials". These budget cuts harm the most vulnerable people in society- children with cancer. Here is an excerpt from the report:

Cancer specialists are reeling from deep cuts now being made in clinical trials, including what they say is the first-ever request from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, to slash patient enrollment. They are anxiously waiting to learn in the coming weeks precisely how 2007 funding will be divvied up. But already among the 10 U.S. cooperative groups that run large-scale cancer trials, many are implementing an NCI recommendation to trim their costs by 10% because of growing pressure on NCI's budget. Roughly 95 trials are at risk, and the number of open slots for patients is being reduced by 3000.

Trials for children have been hit hard, according to pediatric oncologists. Over several decades, they have built up an efficient network to wring data from a relatively small number of patients. More than 50% of children with cancer enroll in a clinical trial, compared with about 3% of adults, says Gregory Reaman, a pediatric oncologist and head of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) that runs pediatric trials.

ABC News has a video report on the issue here. For an Administration keen on fighting wars, it's tragic that they couldn't take the war on cancer just half as seriously as they do the war on terror. Words defy...