Cuban biotechnology experts will present the island’s achievements in the production of Hepatitis B vaccines during the International Biotechnology 2005 Congress, now underway in Havana.
Cuba is close to beginning large-scale production of antibodies based on the use of genetically modified plants, said Rodolfo Valdes, the head of the project at Havana’s Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center.
The expert spoke with the Cuban News Agency (AIN) during the inaugural ceremony on Sunday,
Valdes said that antibodies are proteins only found in vertebrates, but that the new technique allows the introduction of genetic information into plants, favoring bio-security and avoiding the use of large amounts of animals in the production of vaccines.
Since 1991, all Cubans under 25 and Hepatitis B high risk groups are administered a recombinant vaccine against the disease, which kills one million people in the world annually. The Cuban vaccine is also being applied in other Third World nations.
At present Cuba is administering 10 different types of vaccines to protect children from 13 diseases. The island was able to eliminate polio since 1962, diphtheria in 1979, measles in 1993, mumps in 1995, among others.
Biotechnology 2005 continues in the Cuban capital until Friday December 2, attended by nearly 500 experts from 40 countries. This year’s main topic is how to take advantage of biotechnological techniques in order to boost sustainable food production.