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The Editors

How Better Data Can Cure Cancer

How Joe Biden's effort can make progress, even without new spending.
Waiting to be useful.

Waiting to be useful.

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden’s yearlong push to cure cancer by marshaling the resources of the federal government will no doubt involve every kind of cancer study and devote much effort to bringing new investment -- public and private -- to the work. In one critical corner of cancer research, however, a lot of progress could be made with little new spending, if Biden would help clear a few obstacles.

This is the effort to learn more about which of the so-called variant genes in human DNA cause cancers to start growing. Knowing this, medical scientists could better tell who is at risk and how to prevent and treat the disease. Today, researchers know only a fraction of those variant genes because they lack access to crucial genetic data. Biden could help them get the information they need.