Cuba has been developing a vaccine for lung cancer for several years now, and initial testing shows much promise. Researchers in the United States will be soon granted access to make their own tests on the potentially life-saving vaccine, as the lifting of the 55 years long embargo on Cuban products seems to pay off in a big way.
The isolated Caribbean island has been making huge efforts to normalize relations with Washington as soon as former dictator Fidel Castro stepped down after being diagnosed with cancer. But while things dragged on, medical scientists in the country have not been standing idle, and their work on a therapeutic lung cancer vaccine called Cimavax has intrigued their American counterparts.
An agreement has been signed last month between the two nations that will allow researchers in the US to begin their own clinical trials of Cimavax. The deal was struck after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Havana. Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology started working with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute to develop vaccine for lung cancer.
“The chance to evaluate a vaccine like this is a very exciting prospect,” Roswell Park CEO Candace Johnson shared her enthusiasm. In fact, there are many people who believe the vaccine is one step from earning the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. Its low toxicity levels showed much promise in treating the disease with very few side effects, and low production costs make it highly affordable.
It’s not just a coincidence that of all nations, Cuba is the first to announce it has successfully developed a vaccine for cancer. The country has a remarkable immunology community that made significant progresses over the past 40 years, and the low average income forced researchers to look for the most cost-effective options.
“They’ve had to do more with less,” Roswell’s Johnson explained. Despite difficult economic conditions, the Cuban government viewed medical research as a top priority, and both Fidel and Raul Castro increased spending on biotechnology projects, especially on preventative medicine.
In spite of the country’s economic isolation, Cuba was never left behind in terms of medical technology. The Center for Molecular Immunology’s contributions in this area have been remarkable to say the least. For instance, Cuba developed its own vaccines for hepatitis B and meningitis B.
Now, American researchers are looking forward to learning from the small Caribbean nation’s discoveries. But Cuban generosity does not come for free, as a university in Havana will receive high-end healthcare software from an US-based company called Infor.
Once the FDA gives its go, Cimavax will be administered to cancer patients in the US. What the vaccine will do in their cases is inhibit a hormone responsible for the growth of tumors is the lungs. While most likely it won’t offer a cure, it is expected that the Cuban vaccine will significantly prolong the lives of cancer patients.
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