Hepatitis B Vaccination Phase Begins in Cuban Province

The Cuban vaccine HeberNasvac for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B will begin its fourth phase of application at the Camilo Cienfuegos General University Hospital in this province, health sources reported today.

Lourdes Perez, first degree specialist in Gastroenterology, informed the local media that in this stage more than 200 patients infected with this virus will benefit.

The principal investigator of the clinical study at the health center said the drug has the potential to kill the surface antigen which causes the infections resulting in chronic liver disease.

This vaccine, produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana, is administered nasally and subcutaneously in its second cycle and causes fewer adverse reactions than previous treatments.

According to Perez, patients who are not treated promptly may progress to liver cirrhosis, hepatocarcinoma and other complications.

The HeberNasvac, with a sanitary validation that allows its use in several countries, has become a door of hope in a scenario where every year nearly one million people die from complex liver diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

  • Published in Cuba

New Drug for Treatment of Myocardial Infarction Now in Cuba

Havana, Jul 25 (Prensa Latina) A medication for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, developed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), will be available in Cuba next year, the Granma newspaper announced today.

The product, called CIGB-500, is made up of six amino acids and will help to extend the quality and duration of life of people with this disease, considered one of the most serious conditions of ischemic heart disease, the statement points out.

It also expands the cellular mechanisms of cytoprotection during hepatic or cardiac ischemia and the episodes of reperfusion which occur when significant times are used during surgery, Jose Brito, CIGB's director of national promotion and distribution, explained to the newspaper.

The biotechnological compound completed its preclinical and developmental stage. In 2008, a clinical study phase I on healthy volunteers was completed, and phase II on affected patients began in November 2013, Brito added.

After the studies carried out, it was concluded that CIGB-500 is not incompatible with the most commonly used drugs approved for the treatment of this condition, said Yunia Delgado, a specialist of the Communication Group of the center.

With the development of this synthetic peptide, it is expected to satisfy national demand and join the National Health and Export System, Delgado continued.

According to the report Biomedical Projects of the CIGB Business Portfolio, this project is the first medication applied for the treatment of this disease.

Also, the text adds, it will reduce the extent of the infarction, protect the body's epithelial organs from damage caused by ischemia-reperfusion events, treat liver damage and control and reduce the progression of hepatic fibrosis.

According to the Public Health Statistical Directory, severe myocardial infarction is the third cause of death from heart disease in Cuba, responsible for 7,177 deaths in 2017.

Cardiac reperfusion is a medical procedure which may save a person's life after a heart attack.

Antigua and Barbuda Will Market Cuban Heberprot-P

Havana, Jul 6 (Prensa Latina) Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda and Cuba signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the marketing of the Cuban drug Heberprot-P for the treatment of diabetic foot, reported official sources.

The Antiguan Minister of Health, Welfare and Environment, Molwyn Joseph, and the General Director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), Eulogio Pimentel, signed the document as part of a working visit made by the Caribbean official to this capital.

Joseph and his team met with Cuban Minister of Health, Roberto Morales, senior official of the visit's coordinating body, and who was also present in the memorandum's signature.

Cuba and Antigua and Barbuda maintain a close collaboration in health matters and as a result a high number of students from that Caribbean country have graduated from the Latin American School of Medical Sciences (ELAM), the source reported.

At the request of the agreements with the Caribbean Community, Cuba maintains its offer of scholarships for which Antiguan students annually enter the ELAM. At the same time, Cuban collaborators have been serving in that country for almost two decades.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban medicine would save thousands of diabetic feet in U.S.

Cuban drug Heberprot-P awaits the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, amidst storming scenario with Donald Trump in office.

While the amputation rates of people suffering diabetic foot surpass 20 percent in the most developed countries, Cuba claims to have put an end to this serious health problem with the use of Heberprot-P, a medication that might be used in thousands of patients in U.S. and Puerto Rico, but its entry into US market is frozen in the maelstrom caused by the change in command in the White House.

Heberprot-P is an injectable product used in diabetic foot ulcers, many of which, estimated by Cuban scientists up to 80,000 annually, finish in amputation in the United States.

Cuba claims it has reduced amputation risk by 80 percent in foot ulcers in the country, statistics that according to Cuban experts could be achieved in U.S. too, should Heberprot-P gets FDA authorization for use.

Thanks to the new stage in the relations between both countries achieved by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro Ruz, this Cuban drug obtained a permit to begin FDA approval process, but the change of command in the White House has caused troubles to find a partner in U.S. who dares to finance the costly clinical experimentation trial demanded by US authorities.

"At this moment, the issue of the clinical assessment in the United States is a sensitive subject because of the change of administration. This brings new rules with it, causes a domino effect and slows everything down. It can be said there’s a period of uncertainty”, said to El Nuevo Día Dr. Manuel Raíces Pérez-Castañeda, head of the Department of Strategic Products and Government Programs of Heber Biotec S.A., Cuban pharmaceutical company attached to the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba.

"Without a doubt, the medical registration of this drug in the United States will bring a very large social impact, because this disease affects 29.3 million inhabitants, which generates one million ulcers a year, and 200,000 out of them need more complex hospital care, in a country where between 73,000 and 80,000 legs are amputated due to diabetic foot ulcers”, the renowned Cuban scientist added.

Cuban estimates report that amputations on US soil could be lowered from 73,000 to 21,000 in a year.

The impact on poor or minority communities would be much larger, because rates of diabetics in those population sectors are much higher.

"All this has an impact on the social security system in U.S., because an amputated person is a person who no longer works, who depends on the social insurance”, he added.

The success of Heberprot-P, claims the Cuban State, is based on the fact that rather than a drug, it is about a program that focuses on the identification of cases.

It’s a public health model that, according to official figures, has 382 units with therapy available throughout the country.

The secret, they assure, has been an intensive education program for doctors, who, once a diabetes case is diagnosed, monitor the patients’ feet in their consultations aimed at detecting ulcers in their stages 1 or 2, so treatment with Heberprot-P is administered ambulatorily three times a week.

"If we were to send those who need therapy to hospital, costs would rise. Then we created some outpatient care units, which are called policlinics here, thus we can assist stage 1-2 outpatient patients”, claimed Raíces Pérez-Castañeda, who notices that everything was not all roses.

The early resistance of the physicians and the mistrust toward a model that was changing the routine of health professionals harmed. But once the patients began to see the benefits and, especially, surgeons turned from “amputators” to “healers”, things changed.

There are also the typical shortcomings of the health system of a third-world country, above all, in the face of the problems created by the economic blockade or embargo of U.S., which conditions the fluctuation of biomedical products, and the inefficiencies of the health structure itself.

"This is an example of the thesis of the Cuban health model that is not a perfect system, but it is a health system that functions and reaches the population. Cubans cannot tell anybody to use this model, but we can say: 'See what I’ve done, learn from my mistakes and hopefully what I’ve done may be useful to you”, Raíces Pérez-Castañeda stated.

Awaiting for Trump

In U.S. FDA approval process is stopped, awaiting President Donald Trump’s decision and his policy toward Cuba, the investment to achieve the approval for its use is estimated in $170 millions, amount of money that Cuban authorities cannot afford, therefore they are waiting for a partner.

As the scene in the political relations between Cuba and U.S. gets cleared and the search for a partner strengthens, the only choice for those who want to use this drug is to travel to Cuban hospitals, something that is happening at present.

It’s estimated that hundreds of Americans are coming to Cuba to be treated, not only with Heberprot-P, but also with a lung cancer vaccine that is already in its clinical experimentation trial in the United States, or treatment against vitiligo.

Cuba’s health system is free for Cubans, but foreigners must pay through specialized clinics for those aims, such as “Cira Garcia” Hospital or the International Center for Neurological Restoration (CIREN).

Cuban authorities bet that the medical tourism flow generates some pressure in U.S. and that Trump, who is supposed to make an announcement this month about his policy toward Cuba, takes into account the benefits it represents for the health of US citizens.

Edited by Cubasi

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Cuban Biotech could save thousands of lives in U.S.

According to scientists from the island, thousands of Americans could be saved and improve their quality of life thanks to the products and breakthroughs of Cuban Biotechnology, should there be a fluid exchange and trade between Cuba and the United States.

  • Published in Cuba
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