The U.S. is on the verge of receiving an important vaccine for lung cancer from, of all places, Cuba. The close American ties with one of the world's major cigar exporters could actually be good news in the fight against lung cancer.
Cuba has developed Cimavax, an effective lung cancer vaccine, and American researchers can now finally get their hands on it.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Cuba for a trade mission last month, the Buffalo-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute struck a deal with Havana’s Center of Molecular Immunology to develop a vaccine, allowing clinical trials involving Cimavax to being in the US
Cimavax, which stops tumors from growing, was 25 years in the making and has been available for free to Cuban patients since 2011.
So how did such a small and poor country create a world-leading therapeutic vaccine?
Roswell Park CEO Candace Johnson, who hopes to start clinical trials in the US within a year, says that the country's biotech industry has thrived despite—and perhaps even because of—the US embargo.
Cuba has had to do more with less, so they've had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community.
Experts say they're excited not just by the potential of Cimavax, but by other novel Cuban cancer treatments that could now be available to US researchers.