The U.S. and Cuba have had a precarious relationship at best for the last century, but President Obama has seen to it that that relationship be a part of America's past. Obama is set to visit Cuba in just a few days, making it the first visit by a U.S. president in 90 years, and has lifted the embargo that was imposed on them for the last 55 years. As a way to further the strength of the two countries' relationship and to hopefully benefit American citizens, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an agreement last year with Cuba to have CimaVax, a Cuban vaccine used to treat lung cancer, to the U.S.
The vaccine has seen a considerable amount of success in terms of extending the life of those living with advanced lung cancer. USA Today reported that "most patients with advanced lung cancers who received the vaccine lived two to four months longer than those who didn't receive it." The vaccine has also extended the life of those who receive it by 8-10 months in those with the most EGF proteins, which is a growth factor that stimulates cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. The vaccine has had so much success in Cuba that it has been made free for every patient and costs the government very little to make.
Like all new drugs and vaccines, especially those that are international, CimaVax will need to be put through trials in the U.S. to assess the results in American patients. These trials will need to yield the same results as those reached in both Cuban and European trials in order to be deemed safe and made available in America.
The promising international results give an exciting insight into what to expect from the American trials. This vaccine works differently than other treatments for cancer, as it works to cut off the food supply for the cancer cells in order to starve them out and prevent them from growing and worsening the patient's health. This is certainly not a cure by any means, but this vaccine could be the foundation for thinking about different and innovative methods for treating and maybe even preventing cancers. Hopefully the relationship between the two nations can continue to be strengthened through similar intellectual and beneficial trades like the sharing of CimaVax.