What We're Reading: Biden Will Announce Launch of Open-Access Cancer Database

What we're reading, June 6, 2016: Vice President Joe Biden will announce the launch of an open-access cancer research database, and a new bill in Congress would allow companies to repurpose existing drugs for rare diseases.

An open-access cancer database for researchers will contain raw genomic and clinical data for 12,000 patients, initially. According to The Washington Post, the Genomic Data Commons will continue to add records as researchers contribute to it and will include data on the molecular makeup of cancers, which treatments were used and how the patients responded. Vice President Joe Biden, head of the Obama administration’s cancer moonshot initiative, has warned that research silos slow progress and that open access to data is critical.

A new bill in Congress would allow companies to repurpose existing drugs for rare diseases, which will be quicker and more economical that starting from scratch. The OPEN ACT (Orphan Product Extensions Now Accelerating Cures and Treatments) could potentially double the number of treatment options available to the 30 million Americans affected by 7000 rare diseases, according to an opinion piece published in The Seattle Times. With FDA oversight, the legislation would make therapies safely available to people who need them instead of prescribing therapies “off-label.”