Iris de Armas Padrino
THE Cuban CIMAVax-EGF vaccine, the only one of its kind in the world for the treatment of advanced lung cancer, has been administered to 2,000-plus Cubans, almost 5,000 of them within the Primary Health Care (APS) network.
Developed by the Molecular Immunology Center (CIM), this vaccine has been used within the APS network with highly positive results, and has the necessary material and human resources in place, as announced during the 4th Provincial Oncology and Cancer Observation Workshop event, which took place recently.
Extended to 65 polyclinics in the country, CIMAVax-EGF is a safe cancer therapy with very few side effects and raises both life expectancy and quality.
For patient Luis Miguel Romero, aged 68, who has grade 4 lung carcinoma, this vaccine has changed his life; he feels well and works in the social sector.
He receives the vaccine every 28 days in the Turcios Lima polyclinic, located in the Havana municipality of 10 de Octubre. He is grateful for the good treatment and the concern of the clinic personnel for his health.
He expressed special thanks to the Cuban government for guaranteeing the vaccine free of charge, “Because elsewhere, as a retiree, I would not have had access to it,” he noted.
Dr. Gisela González, a specialist in Biological Sciences, and a pioneer of the project, informed AIN that clinical trials of CIMAVax-EGF began in 1995 and have demonstrated its safety and immune response in patients in stages 3 and 4 of the disease.
She announced that studies in less advanced cases have begun and in 2012 the vaccine is to continue expanding to other polyclinics, while clinical trials are ongoing for the vaccine’s extension to prostate cancer patients.
To date, it is only registered for lung cancer, but we anticipate registering it for prostate cancer in the coming year, she stated.
CIMAVax-EGF is registered in Cuba and Peru, is in the process in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and other countries, and has patent rights throughout most of the world.
The meeting brought together some 280 family doctors, specialists and patients, and in its closing session, Dr. Agustín Lage, CIM director, affirmed that Cuba has the conditions for biotechnology to have an impact on the cancer control program.
In the face of challenges of accelerated aging, experts are emphasizing the need for a wider reach in the control of malignant tumors, taking into account the high risk in advanced stages, given that more than half of people with cancer are aged 65-plus years, Lage explained.
In 2010 Cuba registered more than 22,000 deaths from carcinogenic tumors, close to 12,000 of them women, according to the Ministry of Public Health’s annual health statistics. (AIN)