Guess which country has created the first lung-cancer vaccine?

No, not the United States: CUBA!

From the island nation known for the quality of its cigars comes some pretty big news today: Xinhua reports that Cuban medical authorities have released the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer. CimaVax-EGF is the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology, and it could make a life or death difference for those facing late-stage lung cancers, researchers there say.

CimaVax-EGF isn’t a vaccine in the preventative sense–that is, it doesn’t prevent lung cancer from taking hold in new patients. It’s based on a protein related to uncontrolled cell proliferation–that is, it doesn’t prevent cancer from existing in the first place but attacks the mechanism by which it does harm.

As such it can turn aggressive later-stage lung cancer into a manageable chronic disease by creating antibodies that do battle with the proteins that cause uncontrolled cell proliferation, researchers say. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are still recommended as a primary means of destroying cancerous tissue, but for those showing no improvement the new vaccine could be a literal lifesaver.

The vaccine has already been tested in 1,000 patients in Cuba and is being distributed at hospitals there free of charge. That’s a big deal for a country where smoking is part of the national culture and a leading cause of death. If it proves as successful as researchers say it is, it should give those suffering from lung cancer reason to celebrate–just not with a Cohiba.

Cuba Announces Release of the World’s First Lung Cancer Vaccine

Can you imagine a successful new drug being distributed in U.S. hospitals “free of charge?”

Measles in England / Wales: tenfold rise in first four months of the year

Image: nursekate

Measles outbreak prompts plea to vaccinate children

Parents in England and Wales are being urged to have their children vaccinated after a tenfold rise in measles cases in the first four months of the year.

The Health Protection Agency reported 334 cases compared with 33 in the similar period last year.

The outbreak is thought to be linked to an epidemic in France, where 7,000 cases have been reported since January – more than in the whole of 2010.

The HPA says it is “crucial” that those at risk are fully immunised.

Keep these facts in mind before you listen to anti-vaxers: