A better chance for cancer victims

Cuban scientist who discovered antibodies, Dr Normando Enrique Iznaga-Escobar
Cuban scientist who discovered antibodies, Dr Normando Enrique Iznaga-Escobar

KUALA LUMPUR: Thanks to a discovery made by a Cuban scientist, some cancer patients can now undergo treatment without suffering much of the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In 1991, Normando Enrique Iznaga-Escobar developed antibodies that specifically target a certain antigen or toxin found in cancer cells.

The landmark discovery has been clinically tested and, in some cases, has increased cancer survival rates by up to 50%.

The antibodies lessen the side effects of conventional cancer treatments such as nausea and hair loss. They are available in several countries, but have yet to be introduced in Malaysia.

The antibodies, called Nimotuzumab, were extensively tested in more than 29 clinical trials in eight different cancer localisations.

According to Escobar, the combination of external radiation or radio-chemotherapy with Nimotuzumab is effective, safe and increases the overall survival rate of patients with various types and degrees of cancer.

“The antibodies are given after or during the cancer treatment, and they will inhibit the duplication of the cancer cells in the patient’s body,” he said.

“In Japan, 40 cancer patients with stage three lung cancer were given the antibodies and after five years, more than half are still alive today.”

Escobar said he hoped the antibodies could be distributed in Malaysia soon.

He was speaking after the launch of Latin American Business Day 2017 here. The event was co-organised by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation and 10 Latin American embassies in Malaysia – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.