Cuba’s Biotechnology Revolution

An interview with Mayda Mauri Pérez by Fortune Magazine.

Mayda Mauri Pérez is the director of Bio- CubaFarma, a Cuban institution that resembles Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBİTAK).

Mayda Mauri Pérez in an interview with Fortune magazine, Highlighting Cuba is drawing attention of the world pharmaceutical giants, Mayda Mauri Pérez states that 103 clinical researches of 51 drugs have been developed by the Cuban scientists between 1992 and 2008.

Pérez tells Cuban technological advance in pharmaceutical sector like this:

“Cuba has a powerful biotechnology industry with many generic drugs that are produced locally. Cuban Meningitis B Vaccine is exported to 15 countries and it plans to improve the efficiency of the vaccines used by developing new adjuvants (agent to help boost immune response). IV infection in Cuba is very low (0.1 percent). We are a country that has stopped the transition of HIV virus from mother to child. Every Cuban can reach the necessary treatment if needed. In contrast, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Cuba. On the other hand, the clinic trials of six out of eight therapeutical vaccines continue under the Cuba Cancer Vaccine Program Molecular Immunology Center (CIM). Havana Immunoassay Centre (CIE) has thirty-three diagnosis tests that can diagnose, follow up and assess nineteen different diseases. I can say that Cuban children had the most vaccine in the world under broad protection provided by thirteen different vaccines.”

Expressing that Cuba has been making biotechnology infrastructure and “know-how” transfer to many countries and can cover their needs locally, Mayda Mauri Pérez states that Turkey is among these countries and adds that:

“We carry out original new molecule partnership over technology transfer to Turkey together with Hasbiotech. We started to build partnerships with other countries in the field of biotechnology in recent years. The clinical research of CimaVax and Racotumomab that are the Lung Cancer Vaccines which are produced in Cuba and available on the market will be conducted by Roswell Park, one of the prominent Institutes of America with a special agreement. Apart from that authorities have approved in 2014 that clinical trials of recombinant Epidermal Growth Factor that has been applied intralesional and used in the treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcer will be conducted in U.S. We have signed strategic cooperation agreements with Russia and China in the field of biotechnology.”

Cuba has created a professional scientific infrastructure by starting training program since early 1980’s and followed up development strategy in biotechnology. It has included scientific institutes in different areas under the project of “Biological Front” that launched in 1981 specifically. Between 1980 and 1990, important scientific centers such as Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), Laboratory Animal Production Center (CENPALAB), National Biopreparation Center (BIOCEN) and Immunology Research Center and Molecular Immunology Center (CIM) had been established in Cuba. In addition, the existing institutes have been modeled to be added to the biotechnology industry.

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