BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Roswell Park Cancer Institute is getting closer to becoming the first cancer center in the U.S. to offer a clinical trial for a lung cancer vaccine.

The CimaVax Vaccine is unique. It doesn’t attack tumor cells, it’s designed to slow the growth of the cancer. “Lung cancers cells are addicted to the epidermal growth factor. In other words, they can’t grow unless the growth factor is present. What CimaVax does is it immunizes you against this growth factor. You build up antibodies against it,” Dr. Candace Johnson, the CEO and President of Roswell Park Cancer Institute said.

The Buffalo cancer center is working with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology, which created the vaccine, to bring it to the United States. Their partnership was announced after Governor Andrew Cuomo and other leaders went to Havana for a state foreign trade mission last April.

Doctors at Roswell have had a relationship with scientists in Cuba for years, but now they’re working to bring this vaccine to patients. “The way they approach things and their scientific innovation is really off the charts. They’re wonderful people. We’ve really enjoyed our collaboration,” Dr. Johnson said.

Roswell hopes to submit the application for this clinical trial to the FDA by the spring and start it at the end of this year. In its first

phase, patients with stage 3 and 4 lung cancer will be able to take part in it at Roswell.

The vaccine will be administered through a shot. Dr. Johnson says patients will get the vaccine monthly until they see the tumor start growing again.

After phase 1, phase 2 of the clinical trial will study its effects on patients with early stage lung cancer. Therefore, it may be a while before the FDA approves the vaccine here in the U.S.

If you want know someone who may be interested in taking part in the CimaVax study, it’s too early to sign up. However, there are other trials available at Roswell. Here’s a link to more information about that: https://www.roswellpark.org/clinical-trials/list. To inquire about participating in the studies, you can call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724).