A team from Akin Gump is advising Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute in a historic collaboration with Cuba-based Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM). This includes work that has secured a first-of-its-kind U.S. government license authorizing a U.S.–Cuba commercial partnership to fast-track biotech development that will help bring a groundbreaking Cuban lung cancer vaccine and other unique cancer treatments developed in Cuba to U.S. patients. This represents a landmark event in the broader rebuilding of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States under the Obama administration's new policy of engagement.
The announcement was made today by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Roswell Park's president and CEO Dr. Candace Johnson, who announced that a partnership conceived during the Governor's historic New York State Trade Mission to Cuba last year has resulted in this milestone of international collaboration: the launch of a U.S. clinical trial of an immunotherapy developed in Cuba by the CIM for lung cancer.
Akin Gump assisted Roswell Park in obtaining the historic Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) license, just approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, authorizing the Institute to enter into a joint business venture with the CIM—the first time OFAC has authorized a U.S.–Cuban joint venture. Roswell Park has also received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin offering the lung cancer treatment vaccine CIMAvax-EGF® to a limited number of patients through a clinical trial, making the National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center the first American institution to receive FDA permission to sponsor testing of a Cuban medical therapy in the United States.
Recognizing Akin Gump's role in this history-making project, Dr. Johnson said in public remarks today, “Our legal team has been incredible. We were going where no one has gone before. There are only a few law firms in the country [with a practice] devoted to Cuban affairs, and Akin Gump in Washington provided us with incredible service.”
The Akin Gump team representing Roswell Park in this matter as part of the firm’s Cuba practice is led by international trade partner Wynn Segall, and includes international trade senior counsel Nnedinma Ifudu Nweke and associate Dallas Woodrum, cross-border transactions senior counsel Melissa Schwartz, public law and policy senior policy advisor Anya Landau French, health care and life sciences partner Nathan Brown, international trade partners Dan Feldman and Steve Kho, public law and policy partner Scott Parven, corporate partner Terry Schpok, cross-border transactions partner Tom Trimble and international trade associate Johann Strauss.