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Scientists in Cuba have developed a cutting-edge, potentially lifesaving vaccine for lung cancer — and now, Roswell Park is leading the nation in bringing this new vaccine to the United States.

“This vaccine could be a game-changer,” said Kelvin Lee, MD, Chair, Department of Immunology at Roswell Park. “It could impact hundreds of thousands of patients in the United States, and potentially millions of individuals worldwide.”

When you think about scientific innovation, Cuba may not immediately come to mind. A mystery to generations of Americans, Cuba is often thought of as being stuck in a bygone era.

“Having made multiple trips to Cuba over the last three years, I can tell you that is not the case,” said Dr. Lee. “In reality, Cuba’s biotechnology sector is thriving, led in part by the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana.”

The CIM is leading the way in some exciting, groundbreaking research, and has developed an innovative lung cancer vaccine, called CimaVax.

“CimaVax, in its current form, isn’t like the vaccines we normally think of, like the ones that prevent polio, or mumps,” said Dr. Lee. “It’s intended for lung cancer patients, and those at high risk for the disease, including smokers.”

The vaccine works by targeting a growth factor in the blood that is necessary for cancer to survive. By depleting this growth factor, the cancer starves and its progress slows, prolonging patients’ lives.

“The bottom line is that this vaccine works, and the ease of administration — an injection once per month — combined with its inexpensive cost makes it a very promising treatment,” said Dr. Lee. “There is nothing like it, certainly not in the lung cancer field.”

Roswell Park is now the only center in the nation that’s working with the CIM to bring the vaccine to the United States. Scientists at Roswell Park will conduct clinical trials to further test the treatment in combination with standard therapy, once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it. These studies are required before CimaVax can be made widely available in the United States.

To ensure that these trials are started as quickly as possible, they will be funded with help from fundraising events like the Empire State Ride. Roswell Park is depending on continued support from individuals like you to set the pace.

“Research really all comes down to funding. The more funding you have, the faster you can do the trials,” said Dr. Lee. “The less funding, the longer it takes.”

Once the vaccine receives FDA approval, the money you raise — or the funds you donate — will fuel the rapid startup of the initial clinical trials and help bring this innovative treatment to the bedsides of patients as quickly as possible.

“We are now marching toward actually using this vaccine in patients. We have to go to the FDA to get approval for this of course, and we have procedures we have to go through, but we have had no roadblocks,” said Candace Johnson, President and CEO, Roswell Park. “We are very excited at the prospect of giving CimaVax to patients, hopefully by the end of this year.”

The other exciting thing about CimaVax is that it could potentially be used in the treatment of many other types of cancer — not just lung. With your help, Roswell Park will also be one step closer to investigating whether it would help patients with colon, head and neck, prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers.

Help us fuel the pace of this exciting initiative by signing up for the Empire State Ride today, upping your fundraising efforts or making a donation!

Post Category: Where The Funds Go