US shows interest in Cuban lung cancer vaccines
Now that the 55-year Cuban trade embargo might soon be lifted, many Americans are curiously intrigued at how the largest island nation in the Caribbean beats developed countries in providing high-quality healthcare and medical technology.
Before US President Barack Obama went to Cuba, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, visited Havana on a two-day foreign trade mission. A report from Wired.com said they finalized an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to export CIMAvax, Cuba’s own lung cancer vaccine, which will be scheduled for clinical trials in the US. The US-based Cancer Institute raised hopes that the drug would be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Research on CIMAvax concluded that it had lower toxicity, fewer side effects, and could be manufactured at a lower cost.
In order to secure the FDA drug application, the Center for Molecular Immunology in Cuba will give the US all the documents needed for the project, including toxicity data and results of past trials. Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park, says she hopes to get approval for testing the vaccine within six to eight months, and to start clinical trials in a year, according to a report.
The vaccine does not shrink tumors, but it can stop cancer cells from growing and spreading rapidly.
For decades, Cuba enjoyed superior biotechnology and medical research in the world; in fact, the life expectancy of an average Cuban is on a par with an average American.
Despite decades of bleak economic sanctions, Cuba’s President Raul and his brother Fidel pioneered medical research and technology after the 1981 dengue fever epidemic that resulted in 344,000 cases where 10,300 were severe, and deprived 158 Cuban lives.
Aside from developing a cutting-edge immuno-oncology drug, the country has been a reputable powerhouse when it comes to medical breakthroughs, such as the production of interferon, a protein that is secreted by the immune system’s cells, and localized vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B. They also engineered monoclonal antibodies utilized for kidney transplants.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.