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6 Degrees Entertainment

'NOVA: Cuba’s Cancer Hope'
(Llewellyn M. Smith - Director / DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: When the U.S. trade embargo left Cuba isolated from medical resources, Cuban scientists were forced to get creative.

Now they've developed lung cancer vaccines that show so much promise, some Americans are defying the embargo and traveling to Cuba for treatment.

In an unprecedented move, Cuban researchers are working with U.S. partners to make the medicines more widely available.

DVD Verdict: In Cuba, as in the United States, lung cancer is a leading cause of death. But decades of economic and political isolation have starved the country of medical resources, leading Cuba's biomedical researchers to invent their own immunotherapies.

Among them are lung cancer vaccines that can help jumpstart the body's immune response to cancer. Some U.S. patients are even defying their country's trade embargo to travel to Cuba for treatment.

In 'NOVA: Cuba’s Cancer Hope,' they explore the fascinating history of Cuban biomedical research and follows the journey of two cancer patients -- one from the island and one from the U.S -- receiving the new vaccines.

CIMAvax-EGF is composed of recombinant human epidermal growth factor (EGF) conjugated to a protein carrier. The vaccine was developed by the Center of Molecular Immunology, Havana, Cuba (there are agreements in place to test it in the United States, Japan, and some European countries).

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. But can they overcome the embargo?

Indeed, Roswell Park’s collaboration to develop innovative and potentially life-saving cancer therapies originating from Cuba are already off to a flying start.

That all said, does Cuba Have a cancer vaccine that has already cured thousands? Well, not quite, but whilst a treatment for lung cancer developed in Cuba has entered clinical trials in the United States (as aforementioned), it is not a preventative tool, nor has it “cured” thousands of people — at least not yet. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.