Cuba to Turn Cancer into Manageable Chronic Disease

Havana: Cuba’s biotechnological industry is developing a long-term strategy to turn cancer into a manageable chronic disease.

The island country currently has 28 medical products registered or in various stages of experimentation for the treatment of cancer, including therapeutic vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, interferons and peptides. These drugs should have an increasing long-term impact in turning advanced cancer into a manageable chronic condition with an acceptable quality of life, Rolando Perez Rodriguez of the Centre of Molecular Immunology said earlier this week.

The country is preparing a package of bills to introduce new medical products in 2017, according to Rodriguez. These products are currently in different stages of clinical trials or pre-clinical development, and should soon move toward registration and medical use. Pedro Pablo Guerra, a specialist of the National Coordinating Centre for Clinical Trials, said the CimaVax-EGF vaccine, proved to help increase life expectancies by seven years for advanced lung cancer patients, is now being tested in four cities in Cuba.

Registered in 2008, CimaVax-EGF has since been tested on 81,000 patients and will now be used in primary health care units in Cuba. Tested on over 300 patients, a vaccine named Heber Provac against advanced prostate cancer is currently in its third trial phase. In this new phase, experts will compare the effectiveness of this product with Zoladex, an international therapy used to fight prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Health authorities also plan to introduce advanced imaging equipment in the fields of nuclear medicine and oncology, which will make it easier to apply more effective treatment against malignant cells, said Rodriguez. Cancer is the second main cause of death in Cuba with about 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to official statistics.