The far-reaching impact of the United States’ decision to pursue a renewed relationship with Cuba, only hinted at with President Barack Obama’s recent approval of the first American factory in the country in decades, also includes the potentially revolutionary arrival of a lung cancer vaccine known as CimaVax. CimaVax, as reported by the Huffington Post, works as both a treatment and vaccine for lung cancer and has been available for free to Cuban citizens since 2011.
"We’re still at the very early stages of assessing the promise of this vaccine," Dr. Kelvin Lee tells the Post, "but the evidence so far from clinical trials in Cuba and Europe has been striking." Lee, who is the co-leader of the Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York, is working with his team to study CimaVax for a potential release here in the States. The drug has undergone extensive testing and research in Cuba for more than two decades, but didn't receive even the slightest chance of American adoption until 2015, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an agreement during a "trade mission" to the country.
Though CimaVax shots—which generally cost the Cuban government just a dollar each—are receiving the bulk of anticipation from medical experts in America, others are looking at a variety of equally promising cancer-battling developments from Cuba. The Roswell Park team is also looking closely at Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology for developments in treating and possibly preventing future instances of brain, pancreas, and blood cancers.
CimaVax, though not a full-blown cure, has reportedly proven remarkably successful for 5,000 patients worldwide with "no significant side effects." Though the road to swift American adoption may still seem long, with researchers currently working to garner FDA approval for trials, CimaVax is closer than ever to reaching thousands of Americans in need. "You never know how long these things would take," Roswell Park CEO Candace Johnson tells the Huffington Post. "We would have loved to have had this already started because we’ve been working on this for quite a while but we’re persistent and we’ll get it done."
As previously reported, President Barack Obama will become the first president to visit Cuba in more than 80 years next month. "14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba," @POTUS tweeted shortly after the announcement earlier this month. "We've already made significant progress. Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years."