Cuban Interferon used against COVID-19

Posted on March 16, 2020 

By Lisandra Prado

(CIGB) The human Recombinant Interferon alfa-2B, developed in 1986 by a team of researchers from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB in its Spanish acronym), has benefitted thousands of Cuban patients since its inception in the Cuban health system more than three decades ago, and is one of the medicines being currently used to combat the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Dr. Eulogio Pimentel Vázquez, General Director of the CIGB, which is under BioCubaFarma business group, said to Granma daily that during its 6 years of use, the human Recombinant Interferon alfa-2B has proved its effectiveness and safety in the treatment of viral diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, Herpes zoster (also known as shingles), VIH-AIDS and Dengue fever.

It can interfere in the virus multiplication within cells and has been also used to treat different types of carcinomas.

The choice made by the Chinese authorities to use it against the coronavirus, said Dr. Pimentel Vázquez, is because this virus generally decreases the natural production of interferon in the human body and the Cuban medicine is able to make up for that deficiency, thus strengthening the immune system of patients affected by the contagious respiratory disease that it causes.

Since the technology transfer made by the CIGB to the Asian country, ChangHeber, a Cuban-Chinese joint venture was established in 2003 with headquarters in Changchun city. Ten years after its establishment, a state-of-the-art plant was there opened, which currently manufactures biotech products created in Cuba, including the human recombinant interferon alfa-2b.

Worth mentioning is the fact that the medicine was awarded the 2012 National Innovation Award by the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (Citma in its Spanish acronym) and the 2013 National Health Award.

As additional important information it is also worth mentioning that in 2019, the CIGB completed phase two of the clinical trials in patients for the use of cigb-500, a drug that is being developed and that shows indication of having cardio protective effect, as well as the cigb-845 intended for the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases.

Standing out from other projects due to its novelty is the beginning of a new research project intended to find a vaccine against the Zika virus, as well as the continuation of projects already underway to find a vaccine against the dengue fever and the prostate cancer.

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