Speed Reads

adventures in medicine

America will soon start testing Cuba's cancer-fighting vaccine

Thanks to normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, America could get its hands on a promising lung cancer-fighting vaccine that has been available for free to the public in the island nation since 2011.

The vaccine, called Cimavax, doesn't attack tumors directly, Wired reports, and instead targets a tumor-produced protein that circulates in the blood. When that protein is produced, the body responds with a hormone called epidermal growth factor, which can cause cancer. By attacking the protein that spurs the release of epidermal growth factor, Cimavax aims to check the growth and spread of tumors — but doesn’t necessarily shrink them.

Still, the vaccine's growth-inhibiting focus makes it an intriguing preventative medicine option for various types of cancers, and its low cost and lack of side effects paint it as an attractive alternative to chemotherapy. During New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's visit to Cuba last month, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, finalized an agreement with Havana's Center of Molecular Immunology to develop the vaccine in the U.S., with trials slated to begin next year. Read more at Wired.