Cuba Has A Lung Cancer Vaccine & The U.S. Wants It

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Now that travel restrictions to Cuba are being lifted, there's been a surge of interest in the island's art, music, vintage cars, and more. But, as Wired reports, the U.S. also has its eyes on something else Cuban: a lung cancer vaccine.  The Roswell Park Cancer Institute announced last month that it had reached an agreement with the Cuban Center for Molecular Immunology (CMI) to begin testing its lung cancer vaccine, Cimavax, in the U.S. This is where the long road to Food and Drug Administration approval begins. Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park, told Wired that she hopes to get the approval to start testing the vaccine within eight months and to have those trials started within in a year. It sounds like a pretty fast turnaround, but thanks to this agreement, we'll have the help of CMI's data on the vaccine's production, trials, and toxicity. Cimavax has already shown promise in extending the lives of lung cancer patients by ramping up the immune response to create certain antibodies. And, miraculously, it seems to be cheap to produce, with few side effects.  However, as the Wired article notes, patients in the U.S. already have treatment options that do what Cimavax does. And, we've seen cancer vaccines come and go: We already know about Gardasil, which helps prevent cervical cancer. But, the makers of Provenge, a prostate cancer vaccine, filed for bankruptcy last year as sales were tempered by the drug's $93,000 price tag. Still, Roswell Park hopes to examine Cimavax's potential in other areas. It may actually help prevent lung cancer in those who are vulnerable, and it may have applications in other cancers, many of which share Cimavax's target. So, we'll be eagerly watching all of this unfold. (Wired)

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