Cuba has a vaccine against cancer of the lung which interests the United States
For several years, Cuba has a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. Consecutively to the embargo of 55 years imposed on the island by the United States, the vaccine remained where it is. Until now, perhaps, writes Wired.
Last month, during a visit by the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in Havana, the American Institute Roswell Park Institute concluded an agreement with the Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana in order to continue developing the Cuban vaccine against lung cancer and to begin clinical trials in the United States.
U.S. researchers will bring with them the vaccine Cimavax so that it is accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. agency that ensures the safety of the drugs and validates their placing on the market.
"The opportunity to evaluate a vaccine of this type is very exciting," said Candace Johnson, President and CEO of Roswell Park.
Johnson is very excited about this possibility because the research so far on this vaccine showed that he had low toxicity and that its production and its storage was relatively cheap.
The Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana will provide all the information regarding to this vaccine (production, toxicity data and the results in earlier trials) at the Roswell Park Institute for a request to the FDA. Candace Johnson said she hoped the approval to test the Cimavax within a period of six to eight months and be able to start clinical trials in a year.
In addition to its famous cigars, its rum and baseball, Cuba has one of the departments of biotechnological and medical research the most inventive in the world, a remarkable situation in a country where a worker earns on average $ 20 per month.
Even if Cuba less money expenditure for healthcare than the United States, the Cuban citizen has a life expectancy of an American citizen. "They had to make do with less and therefore they had to be even more innovative in the way they approach things.
For more than 40 years, they have a community of preeminent Immunology", explains Johnson.
Despite decades of economic sanctions, Fidel and Raul Castro have made biotechnology and medical research a priority.
After the outbreak of dengue fever in 1981 which affected nearly 350,000 Cubans, authorities have created the biological Front, an institution that brings together the efforts of various agencies to specific objectives.
One of the first success of this institution has been the creation of interferon, a protein that strengthens the human immune response.
In Cuba, the lung cancer is the fourth leading cause of death. The Center for Molecular Immunology scientists worked on the Cimavax 25 years before the drug not be available to the public by the Ministry of health in 2011.
Tests from 2008 showed that lung cancer patients who received the treatment lived four to six months more than those who had not received it. Moreover, the Japan and European countries decided to also begin clinical trials.
The Cimavax is not a drug that changes the current form of the cancer. It's more of a vaccine that does not attack tumors directly but acting on a protein produced by the tumors and that circulates in the blood.
This action stimulates a person's body so that it releases a so-called hormone of growth factor antibodies epidermal susceptique cause cause cancer.
The Cimavax thus prevents Lung Tumors to grow in metastasis and make it chronic but manageable disease.
In the United States and Europe, people suffering from cancer can also be treated with the same objective.
For researchers at the Roswell Park Institute, it's more to explore the potential of the vaccine as a preventative type intervention.
In addition, epidermal growth factor is also present in other types of cancer such as prostate, colon and pancreas.
The Cimavax is not the only drug with this potential in the Cuban pharmacopoeia.
Thomas Rothstein, a researcher at the Feinstein Institute for medical research, has worked for six years with the Center for Molecular Immunology on an alternative treatment, the Racotumomab, a therapeutic vaccine that treats solid tumors.
"Cubans think in a new and intelligent way," says Rothstein.
Even if president Obama lifted some restrictions with regard to medical equipment and research, Congress must lift the Cuban embargo to enable collaborative research to accelerate, says Wired.