HAVANA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) — Cuban medical authorities have launched the sales of the world’s first therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer, local officials said on Tuesday.
The CimaVax-EGF vaccine, as a result of a 25-year research into diseases related to tobacco smoking, has been developed by researchers and scientists at the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana.
The active drug ingredient in the vaccine is based on “a protein we all have when cancer is uncontrolled.” “The epidermal growth factor is related to all cell proliferation,” said Gisela Gonzalez, head researcher of the project.
“The drug could turn the cancer into a manageable, chronic disease by generating antibodies against the proteins which triggered the uncontrolled cell proliferation,” she said.
The immunogenic vaccine is appropriate to patients with advanced lung cancer in stages of three and four, showing no positive response to other kinds of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the expert said.
“It is not possible to prevent the disease but this vaccine improves significantly the status of the critically ill patients,” she added.
She said the CimaVax-EGF has gone through clinical studies and trials in over 1,000 patients across the island and is currently distributed free of charge in all hospitals of the Caribbean island nation.
Gonzalez also said researchers at the CIM planned to use the same principle of the CimaVax-EGF in treating other cancerous tumors such as prostate, uterus and breast cancers.
Lung cancer is regarded as one of the world’s most serious, common and deadly cancers and is most frequently found among tobacco smokers.According to the World Health Organization, the disease generally kills 5 million people a year, and the figure is expected to rise to as much as 8 million by 2030 unless smoking habits are changed.
In Cuba, like many other developing countries across the world, smoking is seen as a status symbol. Lung cancer, killing about 20,000 people a year in the Caribbean country, is considered a serious threat to public health and the leading cause of death in 12 of the country’s 15 provinces.