Thursday, March 18, 2010

cuban cancer success

Following my visits to Cuba in 2004 and 2005, I wrote a few pieces about the spectacular successes of the medical biotech research going on there. At the time the affordable HiB vaccine was a major story.

Since then, I've lost track of developments there, so I was pleased to learn from Clare Sansom's excellent article in ecancermedicalscience that the immunology institute CIM at Havana (which I also visited at the time) has been very successful in the development of cancer vaccines and other immunological cancer treatments.

I should explain that, unlike vaccines against infectious diseases, cancer vaccines are for treatment, not prevention. Essentially, they train the immune system to recognise cancer cells as intruders and deal with them the same way they would with a microbial infection. CIM has developed a vaccine called ClimaVax that is already in clinical use for lung cancer.

I understand they also have an antibody that works on the same principle as Herceptin (i.e. by blocking the receptor of the epidermal growth factor, EGF), but may have fewer and less serious side effects.

More details in ecancermedicalscience.

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