Dr. Candace Johnson of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, speaking at a press conference in Cuba. Behind her, at left, is New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Molecular Immunology Centre of Cuba and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of New York signed an agreement today to export to the US a therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer developed on the island, so that clinical trials can soon begin.
It concerns the therapeutic anti-cancer vaccine CIMAVax-EGF, created by Cuba in 2011 after 15 years’ research, with worldwide patent rights.
The vaccine is registered in Cuba and Peru, but countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are in the process of registration, and others such as the UK and Australia have begun clinical trials with it.
I do believe I blogged on this a few years ago. At the time, Cuban vaccine developments were studiously ignored by the major US media. That all has changed now, as this Time Warner article makes plain:
Roswell Park Cancer Center Director Dr. Candace Johnson said Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology has developed a lung cancer vaccine and following an agreement Tuesday, Roswell will set up clinical trials to test the drug. Before that’s done, Roswell must submit an Investigational New Drug Application to get the vaccine FDA approved.
“They’ve agreed to share that information with us, and we will now prepare the IND that will go to the FDA to get approved,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the way the vaccine works is unique.
“This is an anti-growth factor vaccine. The growth factor is called EGF, and that’s unique. It’s not killing the tumor cell directly. It’s taking something the tumor needs to grow away, and so it has less toxicity associated with it,” Dr. Johnson said.
She said in addition to treating cancer, it could have the ability to prevent cancer.
Johnson said she has no hard timetable on when the clinical trials will begin, but hopes to start in about eight months.
Roswell Park is as big a name in cancer research as it gets, at least on this side of the pond. For them to be expressing interest in a Cuban vaccine is HUGE. No doubt the scientists have been following this development even if the media did not. And now that the US and Cuba are on the way to normal relations, they wanted to be first in the door, testing out Cuban products that they know to be promising. Cuban industry is bound to get a big boost from this if they decide to licence Cimavax for production and use in Canada and the US.
Most of all, though, this validates the Cuban socialist program, which placed universal health care, along with education, at the top of their list of national priorities. Cuba exports doctors to poor countries all over the world, and trains doctors from all over the developing world as well; Cuban doctors were recently among the heroes of the West African Ebola virus outbreak. Their teamwork and co-ordination did not go unnoticed there.
It’s obvious that none of this would have been possible if Cuba were not socialist, and very conscientiously so. Just look at how the arch-capitalist US fumbled their own role in the Ebola crisis, for example. Capitalism, with its emphasis on greed and competition, is no match for socialism’s “all in this together, all hands on deck” approach. Disease outbreaks demand great effort; huge egos only get in the way. And Cuban doctors already know this full well from their cost-free training on the island, which is rooted in socialist philosophy from grade school on up.
And oh yeah, the Cuban socialist program also set aside the budget for medical research. Something that capitalist governments seem to have a lot of trouble doing efficiently, but which a little island with not much money has managed with shocking ease. Little wonder that they managed to sneak an effective anti-cancer vaccine past the so-called First World.
By now, nobody can deny that history has indeed not only absolved Fidel Castro, as he predicted, but vindicated him as well. There may be US trade, but no US annexation. Cuba will stay Cuban, and the rest of the world will beat a path to Cuba’s door. If they’re smart, they’ll follow the Cuban path themselves when they all arrive back home again.