Dr. Gerardo Guillén Nieto, the Director of Biomedical Research at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), of the BioCubaFarma Group, said a clinical trial is taking place for a vaccine called CIGB 2020 to stimulate the immune system. The vaccine targets the stimulation of innate immunity, the body’s first line of defense against infections.
On the Mesa Redonda, Dr. Guillén said that the medication CIGB 2020 was developed by CIGB and the Institute of Tropical Medicine. It is being tested on volunteer patients and others with suspected SARS- Cov2 contagion at the Luis Díaz Soto Hospital in Havana.
The doctor told the Mesa Redonda audience that positive test results are demonstrating the desired increase in innate immunity. It is delivered nasally and sublingually to strengthen these areas.
He said that innate immunity plays a chief role as the first line of defense against infection in the progression of COVID-19. For this reason, Cuban research projects are targeting the strengthening of the immune system in order to avert complications, severity and even death.
Dr. Guillén said, “In the clinical study we are doing at the Luis Díaz Soto Hospital, it has been possible to demonstrate that the preparation stimulates the molecules on the surface of cells of the immune system and those of transmission of internal signals of the immune system, which are related to strengthening that immune response and that innate immunity. Several such markers are being expressed in vaccinates, which for us is really very important news.
“Boosting this innate immunity in the general population – and those infected with the virus, those who are positive to the virus, to prevent them from progressing to severity and severity – is the objective of this vaccine. Because “the fact that the majority of the population does not get sick from a large part of the infectious diseases that circulate, is precisely due to innate immunity, which is decreased in more vulnerable groups such as those over 60 and 70 years of age and in those who suffer from chronic diseases,” he added.
The doctor also stated that in addition to this vaccine, the CIGB is also developing other COVID-19 vaccines. He added that this pandemic, something unprecedented is happening in the world: for the first time an epidemic is controlled through containment measures, isolation.
“This means that a large part of the susceptible population does not have contact with the virus. And, therefore, it does not develop antibodies against the microorganism. This is a huge challenge for the country and for the health system, because afterwards there can always be infections,” said Dr. Guillén.
He stressed the importance of developing specific vaccines, ones that will eventually solve the problem. “There are more than 41 vaccines of this type worldwide under development against SARS-CoV-2; more than 60 institutions work in them. The CIGB works on four different strategies for specific vaccines against coronavirus in different hosts: in mammalian cells (with the Center for Molecular Immunology), in yeast, in bacteria. These vaccines will take longer, but will be necessary in the future,”he said.
Dr. Guillén is also optimistic about CIGB 258, another vaccine currently undergoing clinical trials in critically ill patients.