Center of Molecular Immunology

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Last Updated: February 1, 2004
Other Name: Centro de Inmunología Molecular; CIM
Location: West of Havana; part of the "Scientific Pole"
Subordinate To: Council of State
Size: According to CIM's website, the Center of Molecular Immunology occupies 15,000 square meters of floor space in a two-story facility, with the production area taking up 1,100 square meters.
Facility Status: Unknown

Facilities

The first floor consists of space for research, development, pharmacology, and toxicology, while the second floor contains the auxiliary technical services. The production area has a positive pressure air gradient system in order to protect the products it produces from contamination. Over 300 employees, mostly scientists and engineers, work at the center.

Description

CIM is involved in both product research and development; the latter stems from the center's own research as well as contracts with other institutions. Currently, CIM is focused on cancer vaccine and drug research, in addition to the 16 products allegedly developed through the center. However, CIM is best known for protein research and the manufacture of recombinant erythropoietin (EPO). Agustin Lage has long emphasized the need for the integration of Cuba's biotechnology industry into the economy, as Cuban products attempt to compete in the world market; the CIMAB SA, a marketing arm for CIM, has been established specifically for this purpose.

CIM possesses "hollow fiber and stirred tank fermenters," which are used in upstream production, providing the center with an annual production capacity of "several kilograms" of purified recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies. The production system also includes "downstream production of injectable quality products," which combines ion exchange, affinity, and gel filtration chromatography, providing products with "high purity and biological activity."

The auxiliary technical system includes air handling and condition, production and distribution of water for injection, pure steam, medicinal gases, biowaste treatment, and "'cleaning in place' units for automatically cleaning large capacity culture media transfer piping and mobile tanks."

While visitors to the center have observed an eight-foot security wall around the facility, a noticeable military presence has not been reported.

The current cancer research at CIM is a joint project between the Cuban government and YM Biosciences Inc, an Ontario-based firm.

In August 2000, CIM joined the Center of International Science in China to form the biotechnology company Baitai Biopharmaceutical Corporation, which will use genetic engineering to produce monoclonal antibodies for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer.

CIM has also entered into a joint agreement with Biocon India to produce local health-care products, following the completion of a new Indian facility.

Sources:
[1] Center of Molecular Immunology, www.cim.sld.cu; Patricia Grogg, "New hope in fight against cancer," Inter Press Service, 11 March 2002.
[2] "Trade fair focuses on new biotechnological achievements," Granma Internacional (internet version), 15 December 1999, in British Broadcasting Company, 18 December 1999.
[3] Goa Pei, "First Sino-Cuban biotechnology joint venture lays foundation for its plant in Beijing," Xinhua Domestic Service, 26 September 2002, in "China, Cuba establish 1st biotechnology joint venture in Beijing," FBIS CPP200209260000204.
[4] Glenn Baker (ed.), Cuban biotechnology: A first-hand report, Washington, DC: Center for Defense Information, 20 May 2003.
[5] Anil Urs, "Indian bio cos look to Cuban tech for growth," The Economic Times (Internet version), New Delhi, 15 July 2003, in "Indian firms eye Cuban biotechnology products," FBIS SAP20030715000070.

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