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Cuban scientists ready for increased demand for products against COVID-19

Havana, Cuba, Jan 25 (ACN) The Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), in Havana, has the potential to guarantee a greater production of vaccine candidates, fulfill the demand for drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 positive patients and respond to international requests, Oscar Cruz Gutierrez, its deputy director of production, assured.

Speaking exclusively to the Cuban News Agency, Cruz Gutierrez, who is also Master of Science, said that the pandemic represented a challenge for the institution and the management of the Group of the Biotechnological and Pharmaceutical Industries of Cuba (BioCubaFarma), because the financial limitations are extremely complex.

The blockade has a strong impact on the biotechnology sector; these are high value-added products, with high regulatory standards and the raw materials generally come from the United States, Canada and Europe, which is why it has become increasingly difficult to obtain them in view of the continuous restrictions imposed by the previous administration in Washington, he added.

However, the researcher pointed out that over the years they have gained experience in preparing a large group of specialists, which is necessary not only for obtaining biotechnological products and training human capital, but also in generating ideas and alternatives that allow them to draw up strategies to maintain the vitality of the industry.

At the same time, Doctor in Sciences Odalys Ruiz Hernández, director of technological development of the CIGB, pointed out that since the outbreak of the pandemic, they have evaluated those items registered by the institution in order to use them in the fight against the virus.

We had some biomolecules in clinical trials, such as Jusvinza (CIGB 258), which was adapted to fight the disease, we also improved the processes in several drugs and made formulation changes, she commented.
The specialist explained that one of these cases was Nasalferon, achieved from the modification of the recombinant human Interferon alfa 2b to be administered nasally.

As for the vaccine candidates Mambisa and Abdala, she explained that they were studied taking into account international references and the center's experience with technological platforms.

Ruiz Hernandez stressed that the joint work with other BioCubaFarma entities and several areas of the center made it possible to shorten production times, as well as the teamwork of the workers, especially the young personnel.

She also insisted that the CIGB continues assuring the rest of its productions, with more than 14 biological lines with a view to their application in antiviral diseases and immunomodulatory response diseases.

Among the achievements of the institution in its almost 35 years of existence is having a competent staff and been able to transfer technology and products to nations such as China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Venezuela, which proves the effectiveness of the Cuban industry, the scientist concluded.

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