Cuba’s Cancer Hope

Could a lung cancer vaccine give hope to patients across the world? Innovative treatments developed in Cuba are transforming some cancers from life-threatening into chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Available on CBC Gem

Cuba’s Cancer Hope

The Passionate Eye

Could a lung cancer vaccine give hope to patients across the world? Innovative treatments developed in Cuba are transforming some cancers from life-threatening into chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

In Cuba, as in the United States, lung cancer is a leading cause of death. But after decades of a U.S. trade embargo, Cuba was economically and politically isolated and short on medical resources. Cuban scientists were forced to get creative, inventing their own immunotherapies. Among them are lung cancer vaccines that can help jumpstart the body’s immune response to cancer. These therapies show so much promise that some American patients are even defying their country’s embargo to travel to Cuba for treatment.

Cuba’s Cancer Hope explores the history of how Cuba came to be a leader in biomedical research and follows the journey of two cancer patients—one from the island and one from the U.S—receiving the new vaccines. As they prove effective in some patients, Cuban scientists are teaming up with a leading U.S. cancer institute to develop an even more effective treatment by combining the best of both countries’ research and medical technologies. The goal is to make the medicines more widely available, but will the embargo stand in the way?

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