06 March 2012

Cuba to test new Aids vaccine on humans

Cuba's top biotech teams have successfully tested a new Aids vaccine on mice, and are ready to begin human testing, a leading researcher says.


Cuba's top biotech teams have successfully tested a new Aids vaccine on mice, and are ready to soon begin human testing, a leading researcher told a biotechnology conference in Havana.

"The new Aids trial vaccine already was tested successfully on mice and now we are preparing a very small, tightly controlled phase one clinical trial" with HIV-positive patients who are not in the advanced stages of disease, researcher Enrique Iglesias said.

Iglesias, who heads up the vaccine development team at the Biotech and Genetic Engineering Centre (CIGB) here, was speaking at the International Biotech Conference-Havana 2012, which started in Cuba's capital.

Previous clinical tests have failed

He told the crowd at the convention centre that the vaccine TERAVAC-HIV-1 was made from recombinant proteins aiming "to cause a cellular response against the HIV."

While upbeat, the Cuban expert was quick to downplay high hopes for a long-awaited successful Aids vaccine.

"So far, there have been more than 100 clinical tests on humans with HIV" in Cuba and other countries, "and all of them have failed," he stressed.

Billions spent on Aids prevention

Cuba, the Americas' only one-party Communist-ruled state, spends more than R1, 5billion a year on its Aids prevention and care programmes, including free care with antiretroviral, some of them Cuban-made.

The CIGB, which groups about 20 research units on Havana's leafy western end, is the engine behind a major Cuban export: biotech products including vaccines and other drugs.

The Caribbean country exports R3 billion a year in these products, making them its official number-two export after nickel.

Some 600 scientists from about 38 countries are taking part in the event including Nobel-winning US chemist Peter Agre, also a medical doctor and molecular biologist.

(Sapa, March 2012)

Read more:


Aids vaccine



Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules