Another fallout of the thawing of relations between Cuba and the U.S. — and a pretty neat story, to boot.
Scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. announced a partnership last week with the Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana to work together on a vaccine for lung cancer vaccine. Cuban doctors have been working with a vaccine for lung cancer and melanoma that has shown promise.
From the article by Medical Daily:
The vaccine, known as CIMAVAX, has already undergone rigorous testing in Cuba. It has shown success in reducing antibody responses in lung cancer patients and reducing future tumor growth. Without FDA approval, however, the drug won’t see a U.S. rollout. Scientists still need the authorization to perform clinical trials demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Johnson says the plan is to get testing underway within eight months to a year, provided they can put together the more than 1,000-page investigational new drug (IND) application for the FDA’s review.
The vaccine, if it’s shown to be effective in the U.S., might someday be given to people at high risk for lung cancer — and the group at the highest risk is smokers.
From the story:
“Because of its lack of its toxicity, you could think of using this vaccine in more of a preventive manner,” said Dr. Candace Johnson, president and CEO of Roswell Park and oncology professor at SUNY Buffalo. That would happen in two possible ways. The first is preventing early-stage cancer from recurring after treatment, as these patients face a greater risk. The other is preventing high-risk people, who have not received a diagnosis, from ever developing it. Smokers, Johnson says, top the list.
The story also makes an interesting point at the conclusion, and a point I’ve read before about DNA testing for lung cancer. There is a concern that if a vaccine actually could be developed for smokers to protect them lung cancer, would that demotivate smokers from quitting? There is a currently a DNA test available that can show your risk to lung cancer … and similar concerns were raised about this test … that if the test showed low risk for lung cancer, would that demotivate smokers from quitting?
I guess I’d respond that … you know, there are a LOT of other diseases you can get from smoking other than lung cancer — COPD and heart disease, plus a variety of other cancers. Honestly, this shouldn’t be an issue. If someone actually thinks, “what the hell, I got a lung cancer vaccine, I can keep lighting up,” frankly, they’re an idiot.