Cuban biotechnology progresses in tackling COVID-19 pandemic

Cuban biotechnology progresses in tackling COVID-19 pandemic
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16 January 2021
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The use of therapeutic drugs as part of the sanitary protocols of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP by its Spanish acronym) makes possible, to a great extent, the high rates of COVID-19 recoveries in Cuba, in spite of the current complex epidemiological situation.

In statements to the Cuban News Agency, Doctor in Biological Sciences Gerardo Guillen Nieto, Director of Biomedical Research at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), explained that since the outbreak of the pandemic last March, the institution provided the health authorities with a group of its drugs, some of which are in the research phase.

He mentioned that the first one was Interferon, produced in Cuba since 1981, considering its antiviral capacities and they had reports of its use in China against the novel coronavirus.

Then, a clinical trial started in the Central Military Hospital Dr. Luis Diaz Soto, in Havana, with the HeberFERON, used in the treatment of cancer and which constitutes a combination of recombinant Interferon-alpha 2b and Interferon-gan, the researcher said.

Guillen Nieto pointed out that with its application more than 60 percent of the patients had a negative PCR test after seven or nine days of stay in the hospitals, instead of the 15 days previously registered.

Many also succeeded in recovering in ICU thanks to Jusvinza (conceived for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis ), but its encouraging results led them to include it in the treatment of severe and critical patients with COVID 19, and Itolizumab, a monoclonal antibody from the Center for Molecular Immunology, te expert added.

The first month Jusvinza was used at the Central Military Hospital, no deaths were reported, as it succeeded in slowing down the processes of lung inflammation that lead to the death of patients in intensive care.

Currently, the researcher indicated, the CIGB 2020 is in Phase II of clinical study, a drug that stimulates the body's immune response to infection by SARS-Cov-2 and other pathogens.

He also referred to the CIGB 325, in the clinical trials phase, which has demonstrated its safety in treating the virus and protecting the organs.

The director of Biomedical Researches of the CIGB also referred to Nasalferon, a product of nasal administration that increases the immunological response, when increasing the innate capacity of the body, for which the Council of Provincial Defense in Havana decided to apply it to travelers and people who live in the capital.

Although the medications of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have reduced significantly the number of patients in intensive care, health authorities reiterate the need for individual care, since the risks are high and more in those who have other conditions that can aggravate their health.

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