News on Cuba having a Lung Cancer Vaccine?

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Cubans Have Had a Vaccine for Lung Cancer Since 2011

An article about CIMAVax (the potential Cuban vaccine and treatment for lung cancer).[1]


Cancer vaccines are medicines that work by stimulating or restoring the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.[2] According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are only two cancer vaccines approved in the USA; Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccines,[3] while CIMAvax-EGF vaccine is registered in Cuba.

CIMAvax EGF is claimed to be a cancer treatment and vaccine that has been developed by Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology in 2011, and it has been licensed in Cuba for treatment of adult patients with advanced stages of certain lung cancers after a series of clinical trials.[4]

The Cuban researchers said that the aim of CIMAvax is to be used in combination with other cancer treatments to convert cancer from a deadly condition to a chronic disease that patients can live with.[5]

Several clinical trials using CIMAvax as first-line treatment are currently ongoing and open for patients.[6][7]

The results of the Cuban clinical trials have been showing promising use of CIMAvax in the treatment of advanced stages of lung cancer. Research has shown that the vaccine is safe with limited side effects, and it improved the survival of some of the lung cancer patients. However, all these results are been obtained from clinical trials only, which are designed with inclusion and exclusion criteria. Also, the safety profile of the vaccine, when it comes to side effects, has not yet been obtained for long-term use because all the patients who received the CIMAvax are severely ill with a late stage of lung cancer.[4][8][9]

At the same time, the vaccine’s effect needs to be evaluated in earlier stages of lung cancer and in patients unfit for chemotherapy. Predictors are needed to indicate which long-term cancer patients may or may not respond to this vaccine.[4]

Furthermore, there are many questions still pending in the clinical development of this vaccine that will be addressed in the forthcoming years, namely; if CIMAvax-EGF should be better used as a continuation or switch maintenance for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); if CIMAvax-EGF can be used as first-line treatment for patients with elevated serum EGF; and if CIMAvax-EGF efficacy can be improved by combining the vaccine with other tumor inhibitors.[10]

The CIMAvax vaccine offers hope in extending the survival time of NSCLC patients in the context of clinical trials. Other translational studies are planned to gather more information on the efficacy of CIMAvax-EGF, but further research is very important in uncovering side effects. There is also a need to define the optimal setting for use of this vaccine: whether in the adjuvant setting, in first-line, at relapse, or as consolidation or maintenance treatment. The optimal duration for using this vaccine is also another unanswered question.[11]

In October 2014, the Governor of New York announced that the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a non-profit cancer center, had received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct a clinical trial of CIMAvax.[12] As of July 2017, this Phase I/II trial is still recruiting patients and the primary completion is not expected before June 2020.[13]

Another international trial supported by Bioven, an international company based in Malaysia, started a Phase III study in May 2015.[14] It will be recruiting lung cancer patients from around the world up until 2018.[15]


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