graphic of lungs

Researchers Aim to Prevent Lung Cancer With Latest CIMAvax-EGF Clinical Trial

Prevention study is recruiting lung cancer survivors as well as those at high risk due to smoking history

  • Immunotherapy CIMAvax-EGF to be used in an interventional study
  • Receptor found on lung cancer cells also discovered in people without cancer
  • CIMAvax may have ability to deplete EGF protein, preventing cancer or recurrence

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A groundbreaking international collaboration brought an innovative lung cancer immunotherapy from Cuba — CIMAvax-EGF — to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Now researchers at the Buffalo-based center are now examining whether this immunotherapy developed to treat lung cancer might prove to be an effective tool for preventing the often-deadly disease.

Led by Mary Reid, MSPH, PhD, the interventional early-phase  clinical trial is currently recruiting for participants who fall into two groups, or cohorts — middle-aged individuals who currently smoke or have quit smoking within 15 years and carry other lung cancer risk factors like COPD, family history of the disease or have high-risk occupational exposures but have not been diagnosed with cancer as well as lung cancer survivors who have completed treatment.

“If you’ve had lung cancer and survived it, your biggest fear is that the tumor is going to come back, and we’d like to do anything we can to prevent that,” says Dr. Reid, who is also the Chief of Screening, Survivorship and Mentorship at Roswell Park. “I think CIMAvax shows great potential to help this group as well as individuals who are past or current smokers at risk for lung cancer.”

This immunotherapy works by blocking a protein known as epidermal growth factor (EGF), which lung cancer cells need to grow. CIMAvax produces antibodies against EGF, mounting an immune response, capturing the protein so that it no longer circulates in the blood and no longer reaches the cancer cells. The cells end up “starved,” as the protein cannot connect to its receptor, known as EGFR, on the cell and cancer growth is inhibited. Previous studies have shown that EGFR has been found in the airways of cancer-free subjects as well as people diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Reid and team are looking to learn whether the antibodies created by CIMAvax may drive down the risk for developing lung cancer.

Learn more about the CIMAvax prevention study.

“No one deserves to get lung cancer,” says Dr. Reid. “We need to offer people something to reverse damage done by smoking exposure. If we could have an easy-to-administer medication someone can get on an outpatient basis that could prevent them from progressing to cancer — that would be a quality-of-life game-changer. So we’re exploring whether CIMAvax has that potential.”

CIMAvax-EGF has been developed over the course of more than 25 years by researchers at the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana, Cuba. The CIM is currently conducting an identical prevention study in their country.

For full study and enrollment details, please visit the CIMAvax page on the Roswell Park website or call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355).


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or

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Rebecca Vogt, Media Relations Specialist