Climavax is a lung cancer vaccine that has gone through several clinical trials, allowing for halting lung cancer's advance.
Cancer is a devastating condition that impacts thousands of people's lives. While chemotherapy treatments are successful for some, they are not guaranteed effective and come with additional side effects that can be debilitating to patients' health. Unfortunately, without treatment, most people who struggle with cancer cannot continue their lives, and many pass away.
As technology advances, though, many forms of research have found ways to help cancer patients better cope with their conditions, lengthening potential lifespan and assisting with achieving remission. For patients with lung cancer, studies that have been years in the making are working to bring a vaccine that can help to counter lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Vaccine Development and Distribution
Climavax is the world's first lung cancer vaccine. The drug first debuted in Cuba, where research teams developed it. Initially, the vaccine became available to the public in 2011, which then became open to the public. The Cuban government chose to make the medicine available for free to Cuban citizens at that time, helping patients achieve positive results.
As the years went on and the vaccine started to show effective results for lung cancer patients, other countries began to take an interest. In 2015, this development then led to Cuba's Center of Molecular Immunology forming an agreement with the United States’ Roswell Park Cancer Institute to work to bring the vaccine to the US.
Since then, Climavax has been going through several clinical trials that would be necessary to meet US Food and Drug Administration approval. Meeting such qualifications is an essential step for the lung cancer vaccine to become available for public use—allowing US patients to receive Climavax as a potential treatment for lung cancer.
Because its state as a clinical trial in the US, only certain patients can currently access Climavax. Conditions for the United States first stage clinical trials are:
The clinical trials do not extend to newly diagnosed lung cancer patients and those who have gone through Opdivo treatments. The latter condition is to prevent additional effects that may arise from unbalanced drug treatments.
Cuban clinical trials have already shown that patients who have received treatment with Climavax had improved quality of life and higher survival rates. The US clinical trials instead focus on the combination of treatment of both Climavax and Opdivo treatments together. The clinical trials began in 2015 and had a timeframe for three years, reaching its projected condition in 2018.
Comprehensive treatment methods can potentially have much more significant effects than singular treatments together. This phase of trials may reveal further developments that can help lung cancer patients further reduce the impact of their conditions on their lives.
It's possible to go to Cuba for treatments, but the US does not include medical treatment as a permissible reason to travel outside of the country, so interested patients may need to conduct further research before seeking treatment.
While this clinical research has progressed, there were some complications with initiating collaborative research. Trade embargos between the US and Cuba produced limitations in collaborative research. Though modifications to these embargos allowed for the current clinical trials, further embargo modifications may be necessary for more in-depth research procedures.
How Does Climavax Work?
Cancer cells are dangerous because of how they continue to multiply, even when other cells would generally stop. In a non-cancer affected human body, cells have limiters to make them stop growing more than necessary. Cancer cells are missing those limiters, which cause them to continue to multiply and form into tumors.
Many cancer treatments, like surgical removals and chemotherapy treatments, focus on attacking cancer cells, pushing them into remission. In contrast, Climavax instead focuses on targeting the epidermal growth factor (EGF) protein that cancer cells cause the body to overproduce. With higher levels of EGF, tumors can grow at the uncontrollable rates that make them so dangerous.
Climavax focuses on introducing more of the EGF protein and other compounds into the body. Rather than fueling cancer cells, the vaccine instead encourages the body to produce antibodies that suppress the effects of EGF. The result is that tumors don't have access to the stimulation they get from EGF, and they can't grow more prominent.
The lack of EGF is also helpful for preventing the further spread of cancer cells. As cells continue to spread, they become much more difficult to treat. By restricting the further proliferation of lung cancer cells, Climavax can potentially make it much easier for other treatments to reduce cancer growth further.
Because of the methodology used to make the vaccine effective, Climavax is a therapeutic type of treatment. Rather than preventing patients from developing lung cancer, like a measles vaccine would, Climavax instead helps patients that already have signs of lung cancer by preventing their conditions from worsening—which can be a life-changing piece of news for someone with a lung cancer diagnosis.
Aside from treating EGF, Climavax can help address many other of lung cancer's symptoms—including hoarseness, intense fatigue, and chest pain. The treatment of symptoms can make life much easier for lung cancer patients.
The vaccine can also help patients who have gone a period with no lung cancer symptoms. By reducing the body's EGF production, there is a reduced chance of lung cancer recurrence. Reducing the chances of reemerging cancer can also be a significant event for people who have successfully entered remission.
The Potential Impact of Climavax
As one would expect, the most significant benefit of this vaccine would be in helping people struggling with lung cancer. While it isn't a preventative measure or a cure, it still allows for lung cancer to stop progressing further. For patients that see positive responses, lung cancer could switch from a terminal diagnosis into a chronic condition.
Chronic medical conditions can still significantly impact patients lives. However, vaccines like Climavax could become a way for lung cancer to turn into a manageable disease. Given the fact that Climavax has had very minimal side effects among Cuban patients. These results are in stark contrast to the draining effects that treatments like chemotherapy can have.
Additionally, Climavax holds potential for treating types of cancer besides lung. While there are other differences between tumors, the fact that Climavax works to balance the EGF production can be a helpful element in treating different cancer types. There's potential that other researchers may be able to develop similar vaccines for other conditions.
However, at the moment, Climavax only has to license for use as a treatment for lung cancer. Potential additional applications for the vaccine may receive approval in the future after further clinical trials and studies. If not, deviations of the immunization may allow for new development and applications for other cancers. Some other tumors that grow through EGF are:
These types of cancers are all potential targets for Climavax use.
What Is the Cost of Climavax?
When it comes to any treatment, the cost is often a concern. In its native Cuba, Climavax is free for all citizens. The total cost per vaccine is $1. Since Climavax requires ongoing treatment, the price would not be one time, with a year's supply costing roughly $12,000.
While this price is not a manageable amount for many people to come up with, it is still much more cost effective than other lung cancer treatments. Opdivo, an immunotherapy treatment in the US, can run between $12,000 and $15,000 per month. This difference is a significant saving that makes treatment much more accessible.
These costs are the price for estimated Cuban use. After Climavax completes US clinical trials, the potential final figure may change as it enters the US market. However, it's likely that the price will still be much less substantial than other treatments available. With more accessible treatment, many lung cancer patients may have a way to improve their conditions.
What Are Other Developments Happening in Lung Cancer Treatment?
Aside from the development of lung cancer vaccine Climavax, other advancements have worked to enhance how we can detect lung cancer. An expansion in the past few years has helped with the detection of early-stage lung cancer. The procedure involves improving imaging procedures to analyze better these early signs that can help with diagnosis.
This technology does not require adding entirely new technology to hospitals. Instead, it enhances software used by existing X-ray machines. This advancement makes it possible for hospitals to make cost-effective upgrades while still improving their capacity to detect lung cancer to assist patients.
The development of the lung cancer vaccine Climavax presents a further medical technology development. With the potential for treatment, reduction of the impact on lung cancer patient's lives, and how the vaccine could prove useful for the treatment of other types of cancer, Climavax's development could lead to more significant changes in overall cancer treatment.
Any advancement in cancer treatment is a vital development in technology that can help to save and enhance lives. Climavax and resulting clinical trials have the potential to make a tremendous impact on cancer treatment in the US.