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First drug against lung cancer developed

Cuba has launched the world's first therapeutic drug against lung cancer.



The drug CimaVax-EGF comes following a 25-year research into tobacco smoking related diseases by scientists at the Centre of Molecular Immunology in Havana, Xinhua reported.

The active ingredient in the drug is based on "a protein we all have when cancer is uncontrolled," said lead researcher Gisela Gonzalez.

"The drug could turn the cancer into a manageable, chronic disease by generating antibodies against the proteins which triggered the uncontrolled cell proliferation," she said.

The immunogenic drug is appropriate to patients with advanced lung cancer in stages of three and four who show no positive response to other kinds of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the expert said.

"It is not possible to prevent the disease but this 'vaccine' improves significantly the status of the critically ill patients," she added.

Gonzalez said CimaVax-EGF has gone through clinical trials in over 1,000 patients across Cuba and is currently distributed free of charge in hospitals in the country.

Gonzalez said researchers at the centre planned to use the same principle of CimaVax-EGF in treating other cancerous tumors such as prostate, uterus and breast cancers.

Lung cancer is regarded as one of the world's most common cancers and is most frequently found among tobacco smokers.

According to the World Health Organisation, the disease kills five million people annually, and the figure is expected to rise to eight million by 2030 unless smoking habits are changed.

About 20,000 people die of lung cancer yearly in Cuba. Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the country.

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