Cuba’s Climavax, Lung Cancer Vaccine Is Heading to U.S.

The world’s first lung cancer vaccine called as Cimavax was launched back in 2011 by Cuba. Cuban government made the vaccine free for public. Today, other countries want to try out the same. With improved relations of U.S. with Cuba, USA researchers will soon have access to this lung cancer vaccine.

Here is what you need to know about this lung cancer vaccine:

Climavax is a vaccine treatment for non small cell lung cancer. It targets a protein called epidermal growth factor (EGF) and it works by stimulating the immune response to make antibodies that bind to EGF. This stops the EGF to receptors on cancer cells and slows the growth of cancer. As the vaccine initiates an immune response against EGF protein, it depletes a vital thing that cancer needs to grow and survive. Thus, the cancer cannot grow anymore. When vaccinated, EGF, among other compounds, enters the bloodstream and encourages the immune system to produce antibodies that suppress the effects of EGF. The vaccine is given to people who already have lung cancer. In short, the drug is designed to help stop tumor growth and is not designed to cure lung cancer.

Though Climavax is not a cure for cancer, the current results are promising. For example, a phase 2 trial for people with advanced non small cell lung cancer involved 80 people and everyone had chemotherapy. The results showed that people younger than 60 did better than those over 60. People who had vaccine lived slightly longer. The side effects were mild such as chills, fever and feeling sick.

Cuba has successfully complete three studies and there are other studies going on internationally as well. The final pre-approval phase confirms safety and effectiveness of the drug. FDA is expected to ask for a phase-one study in US, just to replicate safety data. The current embargo between Cuba and US has been modified to make research collaborations. Trials for USA are expected to start in late 2015 or early 2016. If it is found successfully, the vaccine could be tested on other cancers like breast cancer, pancreatic cancer or head and neck cancer that use EGF to grow quickly.

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