ARPA-H launches program to transform cancer care


Biden-Harris Administration announces revolutionary ARPA-H cancer treatment program poised to transform outcomes for Americans facing cancer

The ADAPT Program will transform cancer care by ensuring patients benefit from the best available treatments as their tumors mutate and change

Today, as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda and the Biden Cancer Moonshot goal to end cancer as we know it by driving innovation that changes patient outcomes, ARPA-H announced the ADvanced Analysis for Precision cancer Therapy (ADAPT) program, a visionary collaboration between scientists, clinicians, and patients to usher in a new era of cancer care by harnessing advanced technologies to provide a deeper understanding of and treatment response to tumor biology.

Throughout the course of a cancer diagnosis, regularly acquired mutations in a tumor can render once-effective therapies less effective or even obsolete, allowing a cancer to spread and leading to poor outcomes. To combat this challenge, ARPA-H is investing in a multi-pronged approach through the ADAPT program which will (1) develop cutting-edge technologies to monitor changes in tumor biology including by building and testing sophisticated biomarkers in near real-time, (2) employ an evolutionary clinical trial design which will dynamically adjust to incorporate detailed data on a patient’s cancer to improve outcomes for people facing advanced cancer, and (3) develop a data-driven system so clinicians can proactively measure and respond to treat evolving cancer. ARPA-H's approach stands out from other efforts by building and testing sophisticated biomarkers in near real-time for rapid translation of new technologies for improved cancer patient care.

“Changes in a tumor’s DNA, RNA, and proteins can drive treatment resistance. ADAPT aims to employ advanced biomarker discovery techniques to detect these changes and identify the best next therapy as tumors evolve,” said ADAPT Program Manager Andrea Bild, Ph.D. “Biomarkers, developed from comprehensive tumor biology measurements and advanced computational approaches will enable adaptation of treatments based on real-time identification of tumor traits. Patients participate in an evolutionary clinical trial, ensuring a personalized approach to combating treatment resistance. Through ADAPT, we aim to improve patient response to therapy and increase survival time.”

ADAPT's evolutionary clinical trial approach will track longitudinal changes in tumor traits to discover new data-driven biomarkers that optimize treatment sequences for each patient. This iterative approach promises to speed up the development of new biomarkers, shaping more effective treatment strategies and fostering a cancer treatment process that is adaptive and personalized. ADAPT will establish a centralized collaborative space for clinicians and researchers to access and analyze a wealth of data and resources in real time, to enhance patient care. 

The ADAPT program arrives at a critical juncture, capitalizing on the convergence of advanced technologies, including sophisticated machine learning, statistical, mechanistic methods, and state-of-the-art tumor measurement techniques. With the integration of multi-modal data and a growing arsenal of anticancer agents, ARPA-H's ADAPT program can significantly enhance the efficacy of cancer therapy.

“The President and First Lady reignited the Biden Cancer Moonshot to deliver urgent progress for people living with cancer and their families. By taking a groundbreaking approach to target advanced cancers which too often lack effective treatments, ARPA-H’s ADAPT will drive progress and deliver hope for those needing it most. If we can improve real-time understanding of how tumors change over time, we can transform care and end cancer as we know it,” said Dr. Danielle Carnival, Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot and Deputy Director for Health Outcomes at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

ADAPT complements existing efforts, particularly those of NCI’s Cancer Systems Biology Consortium, by developing, testing, and validating therapy response biomarkers within a linked clinical trial infrastructure. While the research community has made advances in analysis of tumor evolution and predictive modeling, there remains a lack of clinical trial infrastructure capable of integrating these cutting-edge tools into clinical practice. The ADAPT program will bridge this gap, while accelerating complimentary efforts in a tightly-linked clinical trial. 

“The ADAPT program represents a pioneering leap in cancer treatment, marrying advanced technologies with a patient-centric approach,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. “As tumors evolve, so must our strategies, and ADAPT is poised to lead the charge in transforming cancer care for millions of Americans.”

ADAPT will be using a module announcement funding solicitation focused on three technical areas: therapy recommendation techniques, evolutionary clinical trial, and treatment & analysis platform.

Multiple awards are anticipated as a result of the Program Solicitation. Resources available will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. Learn more about ADAPT on its program page, including information about the Special Notice, Proposers’ Day registration, and how to state interest to form an applicant team.