May 12, 2015
Cuba Has A Lung Cancer Vaccine - And The US & The Rest of The World Wants It.
On the scale of health news this story is absolutely massive. Cuba, long known for it's beaches and cigars, has long made medical research a priority. As Wired reports, this was particularly evident after a 1981 dengue fever outbreak that impacted 350,000 Cubans. Following that catastrophe, the Castro government created the Biological Front, which has been at the forefront of Cuba’s world class immunology and biotech research. Cuba has quietly pioneered some of the most sophisticated biotech in the world, and the United States hasn’t had access to it because of the decades old embargo. Recently, and in a move that created a wave of controversy, the Obama administration made strides to lift the curtain on Cuba’s medical research - including the vaccine for lung cancer. As Wired reports, lung cancer is the fourth-leading cause of death in Cuba. Given cigars and smoking culture is interwoven into the cultural framework of the country, it's not exactly a surprise that lung cancer takes so many lives on the Island each year. In response, Cuba’s Center for Molecular Biology developed a vaccine called Cimavax to specifically target lung cancer. The vaccine is administered to Cubans for free. Each injection costs the Cuban government roughly $1. Cimavax has also been used to slow the spread of cancer for patients already suffering from the disease. It doesn’t kill tumors, but it does help slow their spread and has proven to prolong the lives of lung cancer patients. It’s also shown to have very low levels of toxicity - unlike other common treatments and therapies. For the drug to be available to Americans on US soil, Cimavax would need to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration - a process that can be quite lengthy. This represents an incredible achievement, and will bring hope to millions around the world. Cuba for the win. H/T: elitedaily.com