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Biotechnology in Cuba and Havana’s Western Scientific Pole

Posted December 09, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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http://www.nwda-unido.org.uk/biotechnology.html

Global Biotechnology Forum 2-5 March 2004

The Global Biotechnology Forum was held in Chile, from 2 - 5 March 2004.

This major international event brought together leading representatives of government, development agencies, industry, the scientific community and the general public.

The purpose of the Global Forum was to examine biotechnological opportunities and challenges in the developing world. It explored policy, legal, socio-economic, technology and management issues that have a bearing on the development, accessibility and application of technologies capable of contributing to sustainable development.

The Forum focussed on:

i. Scientific, technological, institutional and market constraints on harnessing biotech innovations to meet pressing needs and priorities of developing countries;

ii. Available and pipeline technologies that have the greatest potential to yield much-needed productivity gains, especially in the food production sector

iii. Options to address institutional and market constraints on technology development, transfer and commercialisation.

Biotechnology in Cuba

The Biotechnology programme focuses on Cuba, which is the subject of a major new technical collaboration initiative. As part of this, the UK ITPO has been actively involved in investigating and assessing a large portfolio of research and investment opportunities in Cuba’s life sciences sector.

Over the last twenty years, Cuba has established a prominent position in the biotechnology industry, which has become one of the most important driving forces of the country’s economy. Since the 1980s, Cuba has built up world-class expertise in the sector as part of a centralised strategy to boost international trade and to support domestic social development - particularly in areas such as public health and agriculture.

Once described as “Cuba’s billion dollar gamble,” this government sponsored programme has successfully led to the foundation of more than 100 R&D facilities and pharmaceutical centres, over 150 international patents for new drugs and treatments, and the employment of more than 30,000 workers in the field of scientific development. As a result, Cuba now leads the world in many fields of specialist medical research. It is also one of only four countries to have been accredited by the World Health Organisation for the production of Hepatitis B vaccines.

The most important region of Cuban biotechnology is the area known as Havana’s Western Scientific Pole, which comprises 52 scientific institutions and where approximately 4,000 scientists and engineers are working on more than 100 ongoing research projects. This region provides the focus of UNIDO’s new investment programme, which will provide in depth support for British companies wishing to explore partnership opportunities.

The country’s expertise in this field has already provided the basis for many international partnerships - most typically, the creation of joint companies abroad where Cuban institutions contribute technology, know-how and technical assistance.

UNIDO’s new investment promotion programme is designed to make it easier for companies to engage in such partnerships by providing details of the latest opportunities, supporting trade missions and providing up to date information about current developments in the industry.

A small, representative sample of opportunities from this sector can be found on the Opportunities page. More projects are being added all the time, so for the latest details, please contact 01925 400 339.

The Western Havana Bio Cluster
The Western Havan Bio Cluster comprises seven research institutions, listed below. More details can be found here. (PDF file: 346K.)
The FINLAY Institute. Its main activities include research, development, production and
commercialisation of human vaccines. Its research focus is upon infectious diseases, immunology, epidemiology and vaccinology.It is also engaged in the development of new vaccines (conventional and combined vaccines). Its main products include a Neisseria meningitidis vaccine and a Leptospirosis vaccine.

The National Centre for Scientific Research. With over 1100 employees, the centre’s main activities include research, development, production and commercialisation of natural products, diagnostic systems, medical devices and biomaterials. Its research focus in on natural products, medical uses for ozone and neurosciences. Its main products include ATEROMIXOLŽ (PPG), medical equipment (DIRAMIC, Neuronic) and biocompatible materials.

The Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Founded in 1986, the centre’s main activities include research, development, production and commercialisation of biopharmaceuticals, monoclonal antibodies, diagnostics kits, agriculture products, transgenic plants and animal, and industrial enzymes. Its research focus is on recombinant proteins (cytokines, neurotrophic and growth factors), inflammation, diagnostic products, molecular vaccines (AIDS, Hepatitis C, Dengue fever, Meningitis). Its main products include Recombinant hepatitis B vaccine; natural and recombinant human interferons; recombinant streptokinase; recombinant epidermal growth factor; transfer factor; diagnostic kits and industrial enzymes (dextranase).

The Centre of Molecular Immunology. Founded in 1994, the centre specialises in research, development, production and commercialisation of biopharmaceuticals and monoclonal antibodies. Its research focus is on cancer immunotherapy, Mab based products and therapeutic vaccines, and proprietary technology for recombinant monoclonal antibodies. Its leading products include iort3 (anti CD3), EPOCIM (rh Erythropoeitin) Leukocim (G-CSF), Theracim (h anti EGF receptor) and tumor imaging Mabs (anti CEA, anti EGFr).

Immunoassays Centre. Established in 1987, the centre works on research, development, production and commercialisation of reagents and diagnostic kits. Its research focus is on new versions of SUMA equipments, new ultra-micro ELISA kits for infectious diseases and tumor associated antigens, perinatal diagnosis and DNA diagnosis. Leading products include ultra-micro ELISA kits (Aids, blood certification, prenatal diagnosis); ultra-micro ELISA machines (SUMA) and spectrophotometers.

Centre for Neurosciences of Cuba. The centre specialises in research, development, and production of high technology medical equipment for diagnosis of diseases of the central
nervous system and molecular biology applications. Its research focus is on basic and applied research in neurosciences. More specifically, it falls into three categories:

Three-dimensional tomographic images obtained from electrical currents of the brain and heart to highlight abnormal states of these organs. Characterisation of the dynamic and connectitivity patterns of normal and pathological brains by using multimodal functional neuroimages (i.e Electro and/or magnetic Tomography; single Photon Emission Tomography; Optical images; Positron Emission Tomography; Functional Anatomical and Spectroscopy Magnetic Resonance Images; CT Scan, etc.).
Steady state evoked potentials of the brain from audible stimuli as a method for audiometry.
Others: Separation of intact chromosome/sized DNA molecule by electrophoresis.
The centre’s main products include:
Medicid 128: High technology brain Tomography device.
AUDIX: Optimized System for Objective Frequency Specific Audiometry.
GUEPARD: Equipment for pulse field electrophoresis.

Bioproducts National Centre. With over 700 staff, the centre specialises in research, development, production and commercialisation of biopharmaceuticals (vaccines, recombinant proteins); diagnostic reagents; allergens and natural products. Its research focus in on new culture media; allergy and protein hydrolysates. Its main products include Hepatitis B vaccine; culture media for microbiology, allergens, Trofin (antianemic); production services.

National Centre for the Production of Laboratory Animals. Established in 1995, the centre specialises in research, production and distribution of laboratory animals and bioproducts, and toxicology services. Its research focuses on animal models for research; toxicology; animal
nutrition and intensive systems for production of animal proteins. Its main products include Laboratory animals (15 species); food supply for laboratory animals; toxicology services; mouse ascitis for monoclonal antibody production; animal vaccines and isolation systems for gnotobiology.

Member Comments

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On September 20, 2006, Dr.Peter F. Pascoe, FRSC wrote:

I like to draw your attention to my HomePage: <www.Paradidmawechsel.de> in der Schulmedizin (written in German and in English), in which I demonstrate that antiserums do not contain different single immunglobulin molecules but antibodyaggregates consisting of a polypeptide and very many identical g-globulin molecules. Many peptide sequences of the polypeptide are stericaly fixed by the chaprone"switch peptide"fraction of the g-globulind molecules and bind autospecifically identical peptide seqwuences of the antigen. In addition insependent autospecific reactions may occur between identical oligosaccharide haptens in the antibody aggregates and on the antigen. (This view is confirmed by several (many hundred of references that are collected on a CD-ROM.) One consequence of this is the fact that antiserums may be produced synthetically and very(auto)specific by adding an antiserurm to an excess of an antigenic polypepptide, (which is prepared by genetical engineering), separare the precipitate from the excess antigen and add g-globulin.