As a doctoral student and part of the Black Lab at the University of Kentucky, Sherif El-Refai assists in research that develops cognitive cancer treatments. Sherif El-Refai, a student of clinical and experimental therapeutics, focuses particularly on cancers of the lung.
In October 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced approval of a vaccine for lung cancer originally developed in Havana, Cuba. The vaccine is known as CIMAvax-EGF and will undergo testing in combination with Opdivo, an immunotherapy pharmaceutical that scientists believe may affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.
The vaccine has already received approval in several countries, where results show only a few months of added life expectancy for recipients. However, researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, hope to find enough benefits to suggest the vaccine as a potential treatment for a disease that is difficult to treat.
The drug works to control cancer growth by targeting the epidermal growth factor protein, which drives cell growth. By stimulating the body to create antibodies that attack this protein, CIMAvax-EGF prevents it from promoting the growth of cancer cells. Although the results thus far are moderate, researchers hope that it may become an early tool for slowing cancer growth or for improving the quality of life for patients with later-stage tumors.