Cuba overrun with cancer patients


I’ve blogged on this one before, but it looks like now, some interesting Cuban research into scorpion venom as a cancer treatment is starting to pay off big-time:

A Cuban pharmaceutical laboratory has been overrun by hundreds of foreign patients, Italians above all, who have flown to Havana to be treated with a natural medicine against cancer made from scorpion venom.

The director-general of Labiofam, Pavel Pizart, explained that the avalanche began in the beginning of October, after an Italian journalist filed a report, complete with hidden camera and interviews of several patients who had been treated with the antitumor product, named Vidatox.

“On the 4th 350 Italians arrived, on the 5th more than 250, and the number has remained above 200 a day from Monday to Friday,” said Pizart in a press conference, adding that the company has had to build facilities to tend to the visitors, since it did not have the proper installations.

“You can imagine what it’s like in a company which was not designed for that, which doesn’t have infrastructure, with 350 people waiting outside. It was a problem, we didn’t have anyplace to put them. 12 specialists for 350 people was complicated, but to this minute, no one has left the place without the product in hand,” Pizart said.

According to Pizart, the Cuban embassy in Italy has also been overwhelmed by visa applications, and charter flights have been booked since commercial airlines did not have enough seats.

The diplomatic installation in Rome placed a notice on its website that said “For now, unfortunately, it will not be possible to respond positively to the thousands of requests pouring in to Labiofam, since its production is still very limited.”

The company’s director of research and development, Isbel González, said that Vidatox is a homeopathic preparation made from five protein peptides of low molecular weight extracted from the venom of the scorpion, and which has demonstrated an “analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effect in more than 15 different cancer cell lines.”

According to González, Vidatox has been tested on more than 10,000 cancer patients, some 3,500 of them foreigners, and has shown “positive results”, ranging from “improved quality of life” to “slowed tumor growth”.

The medication is the result of 15 years of research, and Labiofam says that its homeopathic version should be registered in the coming days and could be commercially produced immediately. González added that the company would continue research to produce synthetic or biotechnological versions of the compound.

The medication was produced from over 5,000 scorpions of the Rhopalurus junceus variety, native to eastern Cuba. According to the company, it has no contraindications and is compatible with any other oncological treatment.

Pavel Pizart says that for the time being, since it has not been registered yet, Vidatox is being given out for free to persons from all over the world who have been coming to the laboratory in search of the product, but once registered, they will charge a fee for it. The intent is to produce more than a million units before the end of the year.

“If we find an Italian company that wants to sell the product in Italy, we’ll sell it to them. And if that’s not possible, in a few days we’ll be selling it here in Cuba to anyone who comes,” said Pizart, adding that Vidatox could be exported to any countries asking for it under normal trade treaties.

Labiofam has a history of half a century, and employs more than 3,500 workers in Cuba. The company presented the results of its Vidatox research in its first international congress in late September in Havana before some 500 delegates from all parts of the world.

Translation mine.

Michael Moore may want to consider a second Sicko movie, at this rate. Maybe a group of cancer-stricken first responders from 9-11 will want to try this treatment, too.

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7 Responses to Cuba overrun with cancer patients

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    Well, now that you’re the Feminist Blogger of the Year, maybe someone will pay attention. Let’s hope so. It would really behoove doctors around the world to stop relying on wild, man-made chemical and look at what nature provides.

  2. JamesHardwick says:

    What? A cure for cancer that won’t be used to make bitter, old, rich white men richer? I hear a collective wail coming from Wall Street…

  3. Polaris says:

    This reminds me that some years ago I saw a TV special about Bill Haast, the Director of the Miami, Florida Serpentarium. He was nearly 90 years old at the time.
    He has had his share of venomous snakebites and has used antivenin for many years. Haast was still very active and vigorous and he looked much younger than his age in the TV special. He was born in 1910 and if the Wikipedia information is accurate he will turn 100 next month.

  4. Hmmm, this makes me wonder–was it just his inherently strong constitution that enabled him to withstand so many snakebites and live so long, or was it the other way ’round? There’s so much we still don’t know about snakes and other venomous biters…

  5. Polaris says:

    I wondered the same thing myself, Bina, about Bill Haast. At one time he was researching snake venom to deal with polio, but before he got very far the Salk vaccine came along. Haast also looked into snake venom as a possible MS treatment but the FDA did not approve.
    In some of his interviews Haast seems to indicate that snake venom has something to do with him reaching the age of 99. He has some reduced function of his hands and fingers because that is the site of most of his bites but the rest of his body has always been quite healthy. I think one or two fingers had to be amputated. Apparently it is more difficult to control the damage to the direct hit location of a bite.
    For most of his career Haast has mainly collected snake venom to make effective snakebite antidotes and he did it publicly in front of fascinated crowds, with a touch of showmanship. Some of his audiences have witnessed his most serious bites. He’s a colorful guy and he has appeared on TV talk shows with his snakes. It probably gave him too much of a hocus pocus reputation as far as the medical establishment is concerned.
    I do not really know if snake venom has curative properties but in medicine the things that cause diseases can sometimes be used to successfully treat them.

  6. What you’re describing sounds a lot like homeopathy–“similis similibus curentur”, or “like cures like”. Homeopathic remedies are often lethally toxic if taken in large doses (such as the amount of venom in a typical snakebite), but tiny ones, greatly diluted, are used to cure illness. One of them is the venom of the infamous bushmaster snake of Central and South America, which is one of the most poisonous in the world. Yet when diluted to infinitesimal concentration, it becomes an effective remedy.
    Many people mistakenly believe that homeopathic cures are “just water and sugar pills”, but they do in fact consist of *very* tiny amounts of substances one wouldn’t normally take in quantity because of their toxicity–mercury, say, or arsenic, or belladonna, or various insect, spider or snake venoms–diluted to a point where the human body will not be damaged, but can use them to stimulate its own immune responses.
    This seems to be what the Cuban scientists are doing with the scorpion. Taken in the amount you’d normally get in a sting, it would do damage to healthy tissue, but diluted homeopathically, it apparently can be used to get the body to recognize and fight back against tumors. It’s a fascinating prospect, and I hope their research will be duplicated by others.

  7. Polaris says:

    Yes, it does bring homeopathy to mind. I think the Cubans are pursuing something worthwhile. They are trying an approach that seems to be helping patients unable to get satisfactory relief from anything else.

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