President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba next month is the first by an American president in nearly a century.
The thawing relations between the two countries are expected to bring a bumper crop of famed Cuban cigars, among other imports.
Strangely enough, another eagerly anticipated product is a lung cancer vaccine some say could be a breakthrough in oncology.
Cimavax has reportedly been in development in Cuba for 25 years, partly because lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Caribbean nation.
The injection is not like the other cancer-fighting immunotherapies being developed in hundreds of American labs, said Kelvin Lee, the director of immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Lee and other doctors visited the island nation last year to gauge medical progress – and they found that the vaccine was a promising breakthrough, he wrote in an analysis.
“Unlike other immunotherapies, CimaVax does not target cancer directly and it is not personalized. Rather, the vaccine targets a growth factor (EGF) necessary for the cancer to survive,” Lee said. “By targeting and effectively depleting this growth factor, the cancer starves and its progress slows, prolonging patients’ lives.”
The results so far show that patients’ lives were extended from seven to an average of 18 months with the vaccine treatment.
A possibility of skipping Phase I testing exists, Lee added. The FDA inspection period should end sometime this year, allowing testing to begin. Lee and the other doctors envision the vaccine’s efficacy translating over to other head and neck cancers, as well.
(DROG Discovery & Development)