Cuba showcases cancer vaccines

March 6th, 2012 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana, March 6 (IANS) Cuba’s biotechnology industry is showcasing the latest advances in the anti-cancer vaccines at the 29th Havana International Biotechnology Congress.

Monday’s opening session was attended by 600 experts from 38 countries, the organizers said.

Topping the list is 2003 Chemistry Nobel award winner Peter Agre, who will deliver a special lecture on the biological and biochemical aspects of molecules and their applications against malaria, Xinhua reported.

Cuba, which for several decades has won international acclaim for having developed one of the highest medical standards in the world, has in recent years also increasingly moved into biotechnology.

In a keynote speech in Havana last December, Agre said the world “has a lot to learn from Cuba” because the island has managed to discover the solutions to many of the medical and biotechnological problems persisting on the planet.

Cuba’s biotech industry manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and vaccines in 40 countries, generating revenues worth some $300 million a year, making it one of the top foreign exchange earners for the national economy.

The Cuban agenda to be presented at the congress include a list of eight vaccines developed against different types of cancer, AIDS, hepatitis B and C, as well as the special prevention programs developed against dengue fever, a disease that regularly breaks out across Latin America with severe consequences.

Countries represented at the 2012 edition of the Havana Biotechnology fair include Argentina, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the US.

Cuba first embarked on the development of a biotechnology industry in 1979 after then leader Fidel Castro ordered scientists to look into the issue as a future opportunity for the Caribbean nation.

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