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Obama To Seek $755m For Cancer 'Moonshot'

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By Sky News US Team

President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress for $755m (£523m) to kickstart a cancer research task force, the White House has said.

The aim of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force will bring together private and public researchers to accelerate their work on finding cancer cures and treatments, the administration said.

In a memorandum to department heads, Mr Obama said it was of "critical national importance" to "put ourselves on a path to achieve in just five years research and treatment gains that otherwise might take a decade or more".

The President first announced the initiative last month during his final State of the Union address.

The task force will be headed by Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died from brain cancer last year.

Health officials estimate some 600,000 Americans will die from cancer in 2016.

A senior Obama administration official told reporters on Monday: "With something as big as cancer, we have to think big. We need a new model."

The push will begin this year with $195m  - already approved by Congress - in new cancer work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The White House said Mr Obama will ask for an additional $755m in mandatory multi-year spending, mainly for the NIH.

Multiple departments within the executive branch of government, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive funding.

The money would be spent on a new "virtual" Oncology Center of Excellence, and on data sharing initiatives, the White House said.

The funding would also be used for developing vaccines, genomic analysis, early cancer detection tests, and cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy research.

The President and Mr Biden are meeting with cabinet members and health officials at the White House on Monday to discuss the plan.

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