- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct a clinical trial of an innovative lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Roswell Park officials Wednesday to announce the trial, which is the first of its kind since the recent thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Called CIMAvax-EGF, the treatment is an immunotherapy developed by Havana’s Center of Molecular Immunology. The trial will involve 60 to 90 patients and is expected to begin next month.

Roswell Park President Candace Johnson says the trial is the result of collaboration between officials in New York and Cuba that started when Cuomo led a trade delegation to Havana in 2015.

“It’s the first time in the modern era that a Cuban and an American institution have been allowed to come together,” she said.

Jose Ramon Cabanas Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to the U.S., wrote to Cuomo to congratulate him on the partnership. He wrote that it represented “not only a contribution to the improvement of the health of the peoples from our countries but to the health of all the peoples in the region and the world as well.”

The clinical trial validates efforts to lure top-tier research to upstate New York, Cuomo said.

Cuba could have gone anywhere in the United States,” he said. “They could have gone to Johns Hopkins. They could have gone to Memorial Sloan Kettering. … Where did they choose? The best place in the United States, Roswell Park.”

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