Cuban vaccine makes incursion into Asia and the Pacific

The Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre (CIGB) is carrying out clinical trials in one of the world’s regions most affected by hepatitis B for a medicine against that disease, in alliance with the French firm Abivax.

The Cuban Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre has developed a new hepatitis B vaccine, the HeberNasvac.

The Cuban biotechnology industry has put to the test in nine countries a new vaccine against chronic hepatitis B, with the promise of creating a more effective and safe alternative than the rest of the treatments existing today in the world against a disease that claims close to a million lives every year.


The medicine, developed by the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre (CIGB), is in the clinical trial phase in Cuba and in eight nations in Asia and the Pacific, in alliance with a French company that already has experience in joint ventures with Cuban pharmaceutical institutions, Abivax.


Under the name of HeberNasvac, the new vaccine, nasally and subcutaneously administered, is being evaluated by regulating authorities in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand, in addition to Cuba. According to the CIGB’s official site, the trial involves some 230 patients from those countries of Eastern Asia and the Pacific, one of the regions most affected by hepatitis B in the world.


The medicine has been patented in the most demanding markets, according to the daily Granma, and has been endorsed by around 20 scientific articles published by Cuban experts and collaborators of the French Pasteur Institute, the German University of Hannover, the Japanese University of Ehime and the Bangladeshi Society of Liver Studies.


The announcement was made by the CIGB a few weeks before the holding in Glasgow, Scotland, of the first World Summit against hepatitis, a meeting summoned for next September to create a platform for the exchange of experiences between countries and for carrying out national action plans.


Around 400 million persons live in the world with viral hepatitis and some 4,000 die every day because of this, according to the World Hepatitis Alliance. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that the chronic hepatic disease caused by the virus of hepatitis B is one of the principal causes of liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and other complications and kills more than 780,000 persons every year in the world.


The authorities cited by Granma plan to use in Cuba the HeberNasvac starting 2016, after it receives the health registry by the Centre for the State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED).


The Abivax biopharmaceutical company is financing the clinical trial in the eight countries of Asia and the Pacific. The French firm was created in 2014 by the Truffle Capital investment fund with the hope of turning it into “one of the world leaders of therapeutic and antivirus vaccines.”


Its declared objectives include doing business with BioCubaFarma, the Cuban business group of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry under the umbrella of the CIGB.


Abivax already owns since last November the rights to market in Asia and Latin America another three Cuban vaccines: against typhoid, meningitis and leptospirosis. It also has the portfolios of products of the French firms Wittycell, Splicos and Zophis. (2015).

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