Unique Cuban drug brings hope to di­a­bet­ics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

HAVANA — Luis Navarro is a young Cuban who at 34 years of age has al­ready suf­fered from chronic di­a­betes for the past 23 years. Re­cently, sev­eral ul­cers have ap­peared on his foot, putting it at risk of be­ing am­pu­tated.

How­ever, this has not hap­pened, thanks to the unique Cuban prod­uct He­ber­prot-P, a drug that has won ac­claim for its ef­fec­tive­ness in con­trol­ling and heal­ing di­a­betic foot ul­cers.

A few weeks ago, Navarro was ad­mit­ted to Havana’s In­sti­tute of An­gi­ol­ogy and Vas­cu­lar Surgery, a med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion where com­pre­hen­sive treat­ment is given to pa­tients suf­fer­ing from chronic di­a­betes.

“I had a big wound on my foot and it was pretty bad. The doc­tors ap­plied He­ber­prot-P and I could see a sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment in just 20 days. Since then I have been dis­charged and my ul­cer has al­most healed,” he said.

This drug, which was reg­is­tered in 2006, was cre­ated by Cuban sci­en­tist Jorge Ber­langa and a team from the Cen­ter for Ge­netic Engi­neer­ing and Biotech­nol­ogy.

“The change with this drug is in­cred­i­ble. He­ber­prot-P has been the best prod­uct in­vented by Cuban sci­en­tists. Who­ever lives with this dis­ease knows that foot ul­cers im­prove a lot with this treat­ment,” added Navarro.

In 2001, when He­ber­prot-P clin­i­cal tri­als be­gan at this med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion, Dr. Jose Fer­nan­dez Mon­te­quin was one of the first to use the treat­ment on Cuban pa­tients.

Ac­cord­ing to Mon­te­quin, be­fore lo­cal sci­en­tists cre­ated the drug, there were high rates of am­pu­ta­tion among Cuba’s di­a­betic pop­u­la­tion.

“With the ap­pli­ca­tion of this med­i­ca­tion, we were able to re­duce am­pu­ta­tion rates in the coun­try from 70 per­cent to 5 per­cent to­day,” he told Xin­hua.

In 2016, out of about 35,000 Cuban pa­tients with di­a­betic foot ul­cers, only 480 am­pu­ta­tions were per­formed.

“We have im­proved the qual­ity of life of pa­tients. Pa­tients who man­age to have their ul­cers healed and avoid am­pu­ta­tions sur­vive four more years on av­er­age than those who do not,” said Mon­te­quin.

An­other ben­e­fit of He­ber­prot-P, ac­cord­ing to the ex­pert, is that its ap­pli­ca­tion dras­ti­cally re­duces the resur­gence of ul­cers to just 5 per­cent of pa­tients treated.

Fol­low­ing its use in more than 450 clin­ics on the is­land, Cuban doc­tors and sci­en­tists have pro­vided guid­ance on the prod­uct in more than 20 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, Kuwait, Al­ge­ria, Ar­gentina, Ecuador, China and Venezuela.

Cur­rently, He­ber­prot-P is reg­is­tered in 23 coun­tries and is used in 10 coun­tries that have al­ready autho­rized its use and mar­ket­ing.

“Our prod­uct has al­ready been used on more than 60,000 pa­tients in Cuba and around 250,000 pa­tients world­wide, and is ca­pa­ble of pre­vent­ing more than 70 per­cent of am­pu­ta­tions,” said Mon­te­quin.

Sci­en­tists on the is­land now hope to see the drug used in China, which has the largest pop­u­la­tion of di­a­bet­ics in the world.

He­ber­prot-P is cur­rently un­der­go­ing clin­i­cal tri­als in China for its fu­ture use and mar­ket­ing to di­a­betic pa­tients.

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