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CancerVax seeks import license.

San Diego-based CancerVax Corp. has asked the U.S. government for permission to acquire a Cuban anti-cancer vaccine from Havana's Molecular Immunology Center (CIM), where it is manufactured.

The drug is known as the Theracim h-R3 monoclonal antibody, registered in Cuba for the treatment of advanced brain and neck tumors in combination with radiotherapy. The treatment has led to remission in more than 60% of patients.

Research on the vaccine was originally funded by Canada's YM Bioscience Inc., which later suspended the project. CancerVax is now proposing to take on the cost of the research, acquiring the product through a trilateral accord with YM and paying the Castro government with unspecified "items" whose shipment would have to be authorized by the Bush administration.

Normando Iznaga, head of the CIM Business Development team, informed reporters at the Havana 2003 Biotechnology Conference that a signed agreement doesn't yet exist, but that "there are good possibilities, given that it concerns the subject of cancer, which goes beyond any national or political commitment."

In a statement to Reuters, CancerVax noted that there is no certainty it'll be granted a license. A definitive agreement would also depend on a license from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Details: William R. LaRue, CFO, CancerVax, 2110 Rutherford Road, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Tel: (760) 494-4200. URL:
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Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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