News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba’s lung cancer vaccine is heading to the U.S. for clinical trials

Cuba’s lung cancer vaccine is heading to the U.S. for clinical trials
By Andrew O’ReillyPublished April 24, 2015 Fox News Latino

Since took power in Cuba in 1959, the communist nation has
been known for, among other things, its “medical diplomacy” – sending
doctors and medicine to far flung parts of the globe in order to foster
goodwill and gain allies on the world stage.

But because of the long-standing against Cuba, one of the few
blank spots on the island’s medical diplomatic list has been the United
States. That, however, is changing quickly after New York Gov. Andrew
Cuomo and a number of business leaders from the state travelled to Cuba
earlier this month on a trade mission.

During the trip, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, New York
signed an agreement to import a revolutionary Cuban lung cancer vaccine
called CimaVax that helps treat symptoms and recurrence of the deadly
disease.

“This vaccine is cheap to make, it is effective and it has no toxicity,”
Kelvin Lee, the chief of immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute,
told Fox News Latino. “It will treat people with lung cancer and could
potentially prevent cancer in people who don’t already have it.”

The drug was developed by the Cuban government-run Molecular Immunology
Center in the 1990s and, despite being reported on by various medical
and media organizations across the globe, Havana has kept its success a
closely guarded secret.

Talks about using CimaVax in the U.S. only began back in 2011 when
Roswell Park opened up an academic exchange with their colleagues in Cuba.

A number of policies regarding U.S.-Cuban relations have been rewritten
under the administration of Barack Obama – not to mention last
December’s announcement that the Cold War-foes would restart diplomatic
relations – that have allowed for this joint research to occur.

While the vaccine is a long way from hitting the American market,
doctors at Roswell Park hope to get and Drug Administration (FDA)
approval to begin clinical trials within eight months and soon after
partner with a private company to develop the drug for U.S. patients.

Along with the work taking place in upstate New York, Cuban scientists
will also visit Buffalo to help with testing and research.

“The goal is to test it safely and ethically here in the U.S,” the
institute’s director Candace Johnson told FNL.

The drug is already the market in Cuba, where it has treated around
1,000 people for lung cancer, and has been used on a total of 5,000
patients around the globe.

One of the major reasons why Cuba developed the vaccine was that it is n

Despite universal healthcare in Cuba, the country’s struggling economic
situation and global isolation have made it difficult to maintain
medical procedures like long-term chemotherapy – making CimaVax a
promising alternative to pricier treatments.

“Plus it has less side-effects than a flu shot,” Lee said.

Once the drug is approved for clinical trials, medical researchers in
both the U.S. and Cuba are interested in seeing if the vaccine can be
used to treat others forms of cancer beside lung cancer.

Cuban researchers have focused on lung cancer given their limited
financial resources and the fact that lung cancer is the most prevalent
form of the disease on the island.

“Cuba has not tested it on other types of cancer, but it could
potentially be used to treat skin, brain, colon and other forms of the
disease,” Lee added.

For medical researchers at Roswell Park the biggest challenge will be
convincing U.S. authorities to allow this product to be tested in the
country. But once they clear that hurdle, Lee said, it will be much
easier to begin testing other types of vaccines and developed
in Cuba.

“They’ve got a lot of really cool products in Cuba and a lot to offer
us,” Lee said. “To us, this is not a one-off conversation but a
continuing effort between us and Cuba.”

Follow Andrew O’Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.

Source: Cuba’s lung cancer vaccine is heading to the U.S. for clinical
trials | Fox News Latino –
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2015/04/24/cuba-secretive-lung-cancer-vaccine-is-heading-to-us-for-clinical-trials/

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