BUFFALO, NY-- Roswell Park continues to host the first U.S. based trial of the Cuban developed lung cancer vaccine called CIMAvax. The trial began in January. It could take up to two years to complete.

Roswell's Chair of Immunology Dr. Kelvin Lee, says the first phase is focused on determining the safety of the drug. "It is actually living up to our expectations in these early days," says Dr. Lee. "I think the real critical component of this trial is... is it as safe as the Cuban experience suggested it would be."

CIMAvax takes a unique approach in the sense that it basically cuts off a tumor's food supply, as opposed to attacking the tumor itself.

"What CIMAvax does is generate an immune response against the growth factor. In that setting... the lung cancer actually starves."

It is far too early to tell if the vaccine will have the same effectiveness on shrinking and preventing lung tumors as it has in Cuban clinical trials, but Lee says he thinks the drug holds promise against other forms of cancer as well.

"Can we broadly apply it to a number of different settings? Lung cancer, other kinds of cancer like colon cancer, head and neck cancer, potentially pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer," said Dr. Lee.

Roswell Park President and CEO, Dr. Candace Johnson says the plan is for the trial to continue, despite President Trump's more restrictive policies with Cuba. “Our clinical trial with CIMAvax started in January of this year, and I’m very pleased to note that it’s continuing to enroll patients with lung cancer," said Dr. Johnson. "We’re excited to move our work forward to see if this unique immunotherapy vaccine can significantly improve our ability to treat and control cancer. We expect to continue as planned and to evaluate these new policies as we move forward."