New York researchers testing lung cancer vaccine

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New York researchers testing lung cancer vaccine1

The U.S. is on the verge of testing a promising lung cancer vaccine from Cuba, one that also has the potential to fight a wide range of other cancers. CimaVax has been available in Cuba for years. The normalizing of U.S.- Cuba relations has paved the way for this historic collaboration.

Correspondent Liling Tan reports from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.
Follow Liling Tan on Twitter @LilingTan

New York researchers testing lung cancer vaccine

New York researchers testing lung cancer vaccine

The U.S. is on the verge of testing a promising lung cancer vaccine from Cuba, one that also has the potential to fight a wide range of other cancers. CimaVax has been available in Cuba for years. The normalizing of U.S.- Cuba relations has paved the way for this historic collaboration. Correspondent Liling Tan reports from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

At the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in upstate New York, researchers are very excited about a promising vaccine that targets the very ingredient cancer cells need in order to grow epidermal growth factor, or EGF.

Dr. Kelvin Lee is leading the Roswell team working on CimaVax, developed by the Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana, known as CIM.

CimaVax has been available in Cuba for years for lung cancer patients. Research shows it is easy to administer, cheap to produce, has minimal side effects, and can extend a patient’s life by an average of four to six months – though about a fifth of patients have lived much longer.

Now, Roswell Park is preparing to seek U.S. government approval to begin its own clinical trials on CimaVax. It also wants to expand its use to high risk individuals, such as heavy smokers.

“If we could vaccinate them with CimaVax and reduce their risk of getting lung cancer, that would be a huge step forward,” said Dr. Kelvin Lee. “That’s talking hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, millions to tens of millions people worldwide.”

The collaboration between Roswell and CIM is possible now after U.S.- Cuban relations were normalized earlier this year, and after a trade mission in April brought New York, Roswell and CIM together to bring CimaVax to the U.S.

For Roswell, this is an opportunity to be at the forefront of a drug that could change the global fight against cancer.

CimaVax may well prove to be the new breakthrough drug to beat lung cancer, but one of the most exciting things about this entire endeavor is that the science behind this drug also holds the potential to fight a whole range of other cancers.

“I think that it could make a very significant impact not only in lung cancer in Americans but potentially in other cancers because the key about this is that it’s all surrounding these epithelial tumors which are lung, colon, breast and so forth so it has applications across the board.” said Dr. Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park Cancer institute.

Roswell hopes to begin clinical trials by the end of the summer.