Can it be true? If so, what a breakthrough! Cuban researchers say they’ve developed a vaccine to treat lung cancer.
A diagnosis of lung cancer often brings to mind thoughts of the limits of life. The stark truth is that in the U.S, the disease has a five-year survival rate for 54 percent of cases, when detected early on.
And statistics are similar in many countries. But perhaps that could soon be changing.
No concrete guarantees have been made, but a new discovery made by a doctor in Cuba could help prolong many lives.
Amazingly, according to a recent report on cnn.com, Cuban researchers at the Centro de Immunologia Molecular, the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM), in Havana have developed a vaccine to treat lung cancer.
It’s called CIMAvax. The vaccine doesn’t prevent lung cancer but it does work to stop the diagnosed tumors from growing, working as a treatment. It harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer, and is something known as a therapeutic vaccine.
So far, the drug is still in clinical trials, but at least some of them seem to be going well. On average, patients who have received the vaccine live 11 months longer than those who did not.
And in some exceptional cases, the results are even more impressive.
Cuban native Orelve Leal, who is 77 years old and is reported to have begun smoking cigars at the tender age of seven, was diagnosed with lung cancer 9 years ago, when he received the vaccine.
“That disease is a tough blow for anyone,” he is quoted as saying to CNN. “Because what one usually thinks when we are told that we have cancer is that you’re dead. However, I’m here.”
Doctors the world over are taking note and countries are lining up to take part in the discovery.
Outside of Cuba, Japan and Europe are currently taking part in clinical trials for CIMAvax and the U.S has also expressed interest.
If relations continue to improve between Cuba and the U.S, as they have been, reports indicate that FDA clinical trials could start this year.
They would run in partnership with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.
Every year in Cuba, 4500 lung cancer patients are diagnosed, making the illness the third cause of disease by cancer in the country.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the U.S, with about 1 in 4 cancers death linked to it as a cause.
So, maybe Cuba really will be the key to saving the world, and not capitalism, who knows.
For a country that hasn’t had access to American technology since the 1960s, it looks like they aren’t doing too badly, at least on the science front.
CIM has reportedly produced more than 70% of the country’s own medication as well as original vaccines for 21 different diseases, giving Cubans a life expectancy that’s actually 1 year longer than that of Americans: 80 years.
The development of CIMAvax is part of CIM’s current focus on cancer immunotherapy, and “the development of molecular vaccines, antibody engineering, cellular engineering, bio-informatics and regulation of the immune response.”
What’s next? Who knows, but it could be exciting.