Putin Announces Russia Close to Starting Production of Potential Cancer Vaccine

Putin Announces Russia Close to Starting Production of Potential Cancer Vaccine

President Vladimir Putin declared this week at a recent forum on new technologies in Moscow, Russia, that the country is on the verge of manufacturing a supposed cancer vaccine and novel generation immunomodulatory drugs. He expressed his certainty that these developments will soon be used effectively as individual therapy methods.

In the midst of his re-election campaign, the Russian president did not give further details. However, abundant information suggests that Russian science is making significant progress in finding a cure for cancer. Current figures from the Russian Ministry of Health reveal that this relentless disease currently affects four and a half million patients in Russia, who are at various stages of treatment. Each year, cancer claims the lives of countless people worldwide.

According to local experts such as Yevgeny Cheriomushkin, a researcher at the Institute of Clinical Oncology of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Russia is not exactly developing a vaccine to prevent cancer. Instead, they have been attempting for over a decade to create a drug that appears to be effective in treating certain types of cancer, based on the results of various phases of experimentation with volunteers.

Oncologist Viacheslav Lisovoy shares this view. He does not foresee that these so-called vaccines will replace traditional cancer treatments in the near future. However, he confidently states that a treatment option will soon be available that will help halt the spread of metastases, thereby prolonging the lives of patients.

A Decade’s Work

Sergei Leonov, deputy director of the laboratory of innovative medicines and agrotechnologies, has been striving to create a cancer ‘vaccine’ since 2014. He explains in the supplement Science (4/26/23), from the newspaper Kommersant, that they take samples of a patient’s tumor tissue and induce the cells to age using radiation and chemotherapy. After grafting these tissues into animals, they monitor tumor progression. If the tumor’s growth slows or stops, it provides them with the opportunity to test it on cancer patients.

Leonov further states, “This is a completely personalized approach. We take cells from an individual patient, work with them, and then graft them back into the patient. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

A week prior to Putin’s announcement, Sergei Krasny, deputy director of the Center for Oncology and Medical Radiology of Belarus, stated at a press conference in Minsk that they plan to start manufacturing Elenagen, considered a cancer vaccine, in 2024. Although it is traditionally referred to as a vaccine, it does not have a preventive effect. Instead, it aids in curing certain types of cancer.

Elenagen, developed by molecular biologist Alexander Shneider, a US citizen born in Saint Petersburg and current director of CureLab Oncology, Inc, began trials in Belarus in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, it showed promising results against select types of tumors. However, in other instances, it did not affect the disease’s progression, and further testing is still required, according to Krasny.

In April last year, the Russian Ministry of Health registered the Swiss laboratory Novartis’s drug Kymriah. This drug is used in 23 countries to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in patients aged between three and 25 years. Approximately two thousand affected individuals in Russia require this medication. The cost per complete course, borne by the respective states, amounts to 475 thousand dollars (roughly 8 million 100 thousand pesos at yesterday’s exchange rate).