Cuban vaccine shows promise against lung #cancer

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By  Mimi Whitefield/http://www.yorkdispatch.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The first patients in a clinical trial at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have begun receiving monthly doses of CIMAvax-EGF, a Cuban lung cancer vaccine that U.S. researchers say shows promise in preventing the recurrence of lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The Roswell trial, which was authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last fall, is the first time a Cuban-made therapy has been tested on U.S. patients. CIMAvax has undergone extensive clinical trials in Cuba and around the world and is an approved therapy for treatment of lung cancer not only on the island but also in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The unique partnership between Roswell Park researchers and Havana’s Center of Molecular Immunology began in 2011, well before the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, and had its genesis in a cold call from Gisela Gonzalez, a Cuban researcher who was visiting her family in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Kelvin Lee and Dr. Grace Dy discuss their work at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The Buffalo research center is testing a lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba (Photo: Roswell Park Cancer Institute)

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Roswell Park #Cancer Institute launches trial to test Cuban lung cancer vaccine

Published by Alma

Candace S. Johnson. Photo: Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Candace S. Johnson. Photo: Roswell Park Cancer Institute

By  HemOnc Today

Roswell Park Cancer Institute launched a clinical trial that will assess CIMAvax-EGF, a novel Cuban-developed immunotherapy for lung cancer.

This is the first time an American center received FDA authorization to sponsor a clinical trial offering a Cuban-made therapy to U.S. patients. Researchers are working to accelerate the process of this and other innovative therapies to patients worldwide through a historic new business venture with the Cuban research institute.

HemOnc Today spoke with Candace S. Johnson, PhD, president and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, about the collaboration with Centro de Inmunologia Molecular in Havana; the effort to conduct a trial to test the lung cancer vaccine; and how this initiative may lay the groundwork for future U.S.-based investigations and improve access to those therapies.

Question: How did Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s collaboration with Centro de Inmunologia Molecular in Havana come about?

Answer: Roswell Park and Centro de Inmunologia Molecular have been collaborating informally since 2011, when one of their scientists reached out to us to see if we were interested in hearing more about the CIMAvax-EGF vaccine for lung cancer. We were intrigued, and so wowed by the science and the creativity of their approach — instead of going after the tumor itself, let’s target the growth factor that is feeding it. So, we kept talking and beginning an academic exchange. In spring 2015, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo invited us on his trade mission to Cuba. No other U.S. state had done anything like this, and at the end of that trade mission, we signed a formal agreement with Centro de Inmunologia Molecular that fast-tracked our partnership. It was truly a visionary moment that initiated the momentum that propelled us to where we are today.

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