Positive results emerge on cancer treatment amid rising deaths in Nigerian hospitals

There is an exciting piece of news for the world as Anixa Biosciences Inc.(NASDAQ:$ANIX) has reported positive responses from breast cancer patients who recently underwent clinical trials.

Anixa is the exclusive worldwide licensee to the cancer vaccine technology invented at Cleveland Clinic, the United States, according to Prism MarketView.

Sixteen patients  with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and patients at high genetic risk for TNBC were given three vaccinations once in three weeks.

The majority of patients developed positive responses that “met the rigorous protocol-specified definition of an immune response, with a measurable but lesser magnitude of response noted in the remaining patients,” Yahoo Finance reported.

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Twelve of the 16 women had antigen-specific IFNγ and/or IL-17 ELISpot responses that were observed at all dose levels, with ELISA antibody responses observed at Dose Level 2 and higher.

Insignificant side effects were observed, with no myalgias, flu-like symptoms, or aberrant laboratory values spotted.

The trial is conducted by Anixa in association with Cleveland Clinic, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Chairman and CEO of Anixa Biosciences, Dr. Amit Kumar, said: “The data from our Phase 1 trial to date has exceeded our expectations, and we are pleased with our progress.”

He explained that the vaccine used was designed to direct the immune system to destroy TNBC cancer cells through a mechanism that had never previously been utilised for cancer vaccine development.

“We look forward to reviewing additional data as the trial continues to completion, and we are in the planning stages of the Phase 2/3 studies of this vaccine. Our goal is to initially evaluate the vaccine’s ability to prevent recurrence of cancer in survivors, and continue with extension studies to eventually determine its effectiveness in preventing the initial onset of TNBC.” 

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A Nigerian physician, Dr Mabel Odinga, told Economy Post that it was a welcome development, stressing that the world might have the vaccine for breast cancer treatment in 3-5 years if everything went according to plan.

“It will save Nigeria from untimely deaths of patients and reduce the impact of this problem, which has emerged as a major crisis,” she said.

Patients die in Nigerian hospitals

The Nigerian government is not taking cancer treatment seriously. The country has only 13 radiography machines for more than 200 million people, said President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, Dr Adamu Umar. Only 2 of these machines are working, according to former Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole.

Cancer kills 6 million people globally every year. In Nigeria, about 72,000 patients die of cancer annually, out of 102,000 new cases diagnosed, according to the United States-based National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This means 6,000 Nigerians die every month or 200 Nigerians each day.

In 2020, the NIH studied a 10-year mortality pattern among cancer patients at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos. It found that a total of 6,592 deaths occurred over 10 years, with 1,133 being cancer-related deaths, putting the percentage of cancer-related deaths at 17.2 percent.

The NIH observed that inadequate access to cancer treatment in Nigeria “often results in 80–90 percent of cases that are in an advanced stage to result in death.”

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The Global Cancer Observatory says 80 percent or four out of five of cancer patients die in Nigeria, observing that there was no adequate care for unfortunate patients suffering from the disease.

An Abuja-based surgeon, Dr John-Mary Adih, noted that cancer patients in Nigeria suffered from most of the problems facing the nation’s healthcare system.

“The problem is that there are very few specialists who will cater for or manage cancer patients today in Nigeria,” he said.

“While doctors are fleeing the country, equipment is grossly inadequate. My advice is to for the government to make the medical profession attractive by funding the hospitals and paying medical personnel reasonably well,” he counselled.

Premium Times reported that 5,600 Nigerian medical doctors had migrated to the United Kingdom (UK) in the last eight years. Nigeria had only 24,000 doctors in the country in 2022 but needed 363,000 to cater for its 200 million people, reports said.

“Things are already getting out of hand as thousands of doctors are leaving, or japaing, which is now the popular slang expression. Let the government wake up or things will get worse,” Dr Adih added.

Stella Odiche
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