U.S., Cuban research institutes create first joint biotech venture

The joint venture will be conducting trials of some Cuban drugs which may bring new cancer therapies to U.S. patients.
by Reuters /
Image: CUBA-CAR-SALES
A bike-taxi and a vintage American car are seen in front of a building decorated with a large Cuban flag, on December 31, 2013, in Havana.ADALBERTO ROQUE / AFP/Getty Images

U.S. and Cuban research institutes said on Wednesday they were creating the first joint U.S.-Cuban biotech venture, to be headquartered in Cuba to bring new cancer therapies to U.S. patients.

The Innovative Immunotherapy Alliance SA is the fruit of a three-year partnership between the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, New York and Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology begun following the historic 2014 U.S.-Cuban detente.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump has partially unraveled that detente agreed by his predecessor President Barack Obama and Former Cuban President Raul Castro, projects undertaken during that rapprochement have continued apace.

The new joint venture will be headquartered in Cuba’s Special Development Zone, offering companies tax cuts and other incentives and located at the Mariel Bay just west of Havana, Cuban state-run news agency Prensa Latina said.

Roswell Park also announced on Wednesday that initial results from a clinical trial of a Cuban-developed vaccine to extend the lives of lung cancer patients was “safe, well tolerated and worthy of further study.”

Roswell Park said it had raised $4 millions in donations to fund the clinical trials of the CimaVax EGF drug.

That vaccine, and three further immunotherapy treatments developed in Cuba will be included in the Innovative Immunotherapy Alliance’s portfolio of products, Prensa Latina said.

In the first few years, the joint venture will focus on trialing those treatments to demonstrate their safety and efficacy, with the aim of eventually exporting them to the United States, the agency added.

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