With the 55- year long trade embargo on Cuba, the countries medical wonders have been in the shadows for the United States public. Yet, with the occasion of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the Cuban Center for Molecular Immunology stroke a deal with the U.S. Roswell Park Cancer Institute to begin clinical trials for CimaVax, a cancer therapeutic vaccine that works wonders.
The news came with Governor’s Andrew Cuomo visit to Havana in the follow-up of trade relations normalization between the two countries.
The CEO of Roswell Park stated that soon the Center for Molecular Immunology will hand the U.S. company all the documentation needed to file for FDA approval. Candace Johnson is hopeful that CimaVax will be ready for testing within six to eight months, with the clinical trial beginning in a year.
CimaVax is designed to attack a protein that tumors produce. This protein circulates in the blood, forcing the body to release a hormone called epidermal growth factor. The body then releases antibodies attacking the epidermal growth factor. This is where CimaVax intervenes. It attacks the hormone which, left unchecked leads to cell growth that in turn may cause cancer.
After extensive clinical trials and testing conducted in Cuba for 25 years, the vaccine became available to the public for free in 2011. Governmental reports indicate that the production and storage of each shot comes at a price of only 1 dollar.
The prospects that this vaccine offers are optimistic with regards to life expectancy. In a second phase of the clinical trial the patients who were administered CimaVax and suffered from lung cancer showed an increased life span of four to six months.
Building on the success CimaVax has had in Cuba, Roswell Park is planning to offer it to the U.S. public as a preemptive therapy for start. But its potential can be developed to new extents.
How did Cuba manage to develop such a cheap vaccine under the dire economic prospects of the country? By making good use of all their resources. Following the 1981 dengue fever outbreak, the Biological front was established. Its purpose was to harness efforts of agencies for improving health.
The production of interferon was a major breakthrough. Shortly after, immunologists developed various other in-house medications, adapting to the times. For instance, Cuba now has its own vaccines against meningitis B, as well as hepatitis B. An accomplishment not many can boast.
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