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ESD's Zemsky, Roswell Park CEO Johnson detail agreement reached with Cuban Center for Molecular Immunology during Cuomo's trade mission to Cuba


Fri, Apr 24th 2015 09:40 am

Roswell Park Cancer Center signs agreement with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine with a clinical trial in the U.S.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky and Roswell Park Cancer Institute CEO and President Dr. Candace Johnson announced Wednesday that, following the New York trade mission to Cuba, RPCI has signed an agreement with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a unique lung cancer vaccine with a clinical trial in the U.S. The trade mission facilitated face-to-face connections and enabled the two parties to hammer out the final details.

"By laying a foundation for potential relationships between New York state and Cuba industries, I had great hope that the New York state trade mission to Cuba would be a success by ensuring that Empire State companies were at the front of the line as doors begin to open between the U.S. and Cuba," Zemsky said. "Roswell Park's pioneering studies have led to tremendous advances in cancer diagnostics and treatment and, now, with a relationship with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology, the comprehensive cancer center will further be able to advance its mission."

"The agreement we reached during Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo's trade mission holds tremendous promise, and simply could not have been realized as effectively and efficiently without the governor's leadership," Johnson said. "The lung cancer vaccine developed by the Center for Molecular Immunology team represents a creative, unique approach to treating and perhaps preventing cancer, and we are enormously proud that Roswell Park expects to be the first U.S. institution to be able to offer it to select patients."

Leaders from business and higher education joined New York's trade mission to Cuba April 20-21 - the first governor-led state trade mission to Cuba since President Obama began the process to normalize diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. RPCI was represented on the trade mission by Johnson and department of immunology Chairman Dr. Kelvin Lee.

The agreement between Johnson and Einard Blanco Garcia, the general manager of the Havana-based CIM, a cancer research group, was signed Tuesday after meetings Monday. RPCI has had conversation with Cuba since 2011 and has been aware of the lung cancer vaccine for about six months, but the trade mission with Cuomo to Cuba helped finalized a deal.

RPCI has partnered with CIM through academic and preclinical research exchanges since 2011. The agreement reached this week will support testing of a CIM-developed vaccine for lung cancer, which is already in use in Cuba, in an early-phase clinical trial at RPCI. The vaccine has already shown promise in controlling lung cancer, and the teams hope it may have value in both preventing and treating lung cancer and possibly other cancers. The agreement with the CIM paves the way for RPCI to move forward on its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to offer the vaccine in a clinical trial in the U.S.

This trade mission is part of Global NY, an initiative launched by Cuomo in 2014. The trade mission to Cuba will be the first of several trade mission destinations, including Canada, China, Israel and Mexico.

With offices in New York, Canada, China, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, Global NY has on-the-ground experts around the world creating new business opportunities for New York. In addition, the governor recently unveiled www.global.ny.gov, a one-stop shop for trade and investment and a $35 million Global NY development fund, which will soon provide loans and grants to help small- and medium-sized New York businesses export abroad.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in upstate New York. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email [email protected].

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