The Molecular Immunology Center (CIM) is part of a Cuban plan to develop treatments for cancer and other autoimmune diseases using biotechnological methods, creating important medicines benefiting the population’s health, and contributing to the growth of exports.
Affiliated with the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries Group, BioCubaFarma, the CIM focuses its basic research on creating new medicines through animal stem cell culturing, all done in compliance with production practices and under strict adherence to internationally established health regulations.
Therapeutic vaccines CIMAvax-EGF® y VAXIRA® (also know as racotumomab) which advanced studies have proven to be effective in treating non-small cell lung cancer, feature among some of its most successful products.
Early detection is key to the effectiveness of the treatment, however, given the difficulty of diagnosis and depending on the aggressiveness of the illness, the cancer can quickly evolve leaving the patient with only eight to ten months to live.
Although chemotherapy and radiotherapy are effective in slowing down the development of the tumor, thus prolonging the patient’s life, they also carry adverse side effects, hence the importance of finding biological or autoimmune therapies to help prolong the patient’s life.
Fermentation plant for the creation of CIM developed products. Photo: Courtesy of the CIM
These Cuban autoimmune therapies are designed to strengthen and stimulate the immune system’s ability to protect the body against all harmful tumors, and as such inhibit growth and even reduce tumor size, in order to turn cancer into a manageable chronic disease and provide the patient with a satisfactory quality of life. The low toxicity of these medicines has also seen their use extended to family clinics.
The two medications received commercialization approval from the Center for State Control of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Devices (CECMED).
Associated health facilities across the country are currently working on getting these medicines certified as “registered products,” following successful nationwide clinical trials. CIMAvax-EGF® is already registered in Peru, Paraguay and Colombia.
Granma International spoke withGryssell Rodríguez Martínez MsC, who stated that these products were developed to benefit 100% of Cuban patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer, and thus are available in all national medical institutions.
Meanwhile, work is being carried out to identify foreign companies interested in establishing agreements with Cuban biopharmaceutical entities. These foreign businesses will contribute to the product development process and market expansion.
The scientist also noted that “The agreements will vary depending on the specificitiesof the product. It will be a long process with important challenges, but we hope that patients might have the option of our medicines, as an alternative lung cancer therapy, one of the leading causes of death in Cuba and the world.”
In order to fulfill its social objective, the CIM has a staff of over 11,000 highly trained professionals, including more than 40 PhD and 150 MsC graduates, who have invented 45 products. The center has also applied for 729 international patents (355 granted) and has published over 500 papers in prestigious journals.
All this work has resulted in the creation of 21 products – six of which are registered while the remainder are undergoing different stages of development – which have benefited some 92,000 Cuban patients over the last 20 years. Over 55 hospitals, numerous polyclinics and some 1,500 health professionals nationwide are involved in clinical trails, supporting scientific research.
What is more, the CIM has three joint ventures with China, Argentina and Singapore and transfers technology to Brazil, India, China and Thailand. The facility’s marketing agency, CIMAB S.A, operates worldwide and currently has contracts with over 45 entities across 100 countries and export operations in thirty.
Inaugurated by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, on December 5, 1994, the CIM is an efficient, high quality facility benefiting from the latest equipment and most advanced technology. Meanwhile, quality annual control inspections are carried out across all its departments by various international organizations.
Rodríguez Martínez also highlighted that the Center constantly receives requests from individuals wishing to receive treatment with new medications. She notes that those interested should contact the Cuba Medical Services company at its website www.smcsalud.cu, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, as all therapies must first be prescribed by a pathology specialist.
The scientist concluded: “Cuba stands as a pioneer in cancer treatment research, has a high scientific level, we are a reference and have a biotechnology industry which despite the limitations of being an underdeveloped country, appropriately responds to the needs of the time.”