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Dr. Ernesto Miyares Díaz explains that substances extracted from the placenta for use in medications are natural products, and do not cause negative side-effects. Photo: Alberto Borrego

Lizandro Nuñez Fonseca and Yuleidys Cruz, receive treatment for their skin diseases at Havana’s Placental Histotherapy Center (CHP), an institution devoted to research, production and the application of therapeutic medications and cosmetics manufactured with ingredients extracted from the human placenta

He suffers from psoriasis, and she vitiligo, while their five-year-old daughter has also received treatment at the Center since she was diagnosed with alopecia areata. The family lives in Havana’s Santa Fe neighborhood, in the municipality of Playa, and reported that they began treatment at the clinic in 1994 with Dr. Carlos Miyares Cao, who died in August of 2015, a great loss for medicine and humanity.

The doctor and professor, Miyares Cao, was among the first group of physicians trained by the Revolution, and during his years studying Pharmacy was called upon to give classes, since, at that time, many academics were leaving the country. He later studied Gynecology, which contributed to his motivation to use the human placenta in several research projects related to the development of medications.

During his investigations, the eminent scientist created a unique treatment for vitiligo, the only one of its kind in the world, based on the use of a novel medication called Melagenina, registered in 1980, after more than ten years of studies and clinical trials, with the close collaboration of a well-known dermatologist, Dr. Manuel Taboas.

He also developed a psoriasis treatment, Coriodermina, a lotion with a pilo-regenerating effect which inhibits the development of crises; a placenta-based shampoo prescribed for seborrheic eczema and alopecia areata; in addition to an anti-aging cream.

Dr. Ernesto Miyares Díaz, current director of the center, affiliated with the BioCubaFarma pharmaceuticals state enterprise group, reported that the experience gained over three decades and the treatment of thousands of patients, both Cuban and from abroad, has led to the development of Melagenina Plus, a highly effective new version of the vitiligo medication.

The director told Granma International that these medicines have earned Cuba a vanguard position internationally, since no similar products exist elsewhere, explaining, “Other institutions around the world have in their majority studied the animal placenta.”

Dr. María Victoria Licea Tornés, director of research, reports that projects are underway to improve products and create new medicines, in order to diversify the Center’s portfolio of exports. Photo: Alberto Borrego

Also outstanding is the innocuity of these medications based on biological products, in addition to the ease and effectiveness of their use in 80% of patients treated. Placentas are collected from the country’s maternity hospitals, thoroughly evaluated in accordance with established regulations, and tested for sexually transmitted diseases, before receiving certification for their use in the productive process.

Although it is not directly affiliated with the nation’s public health system, the Center receives some 600 Cuban patients a month, from all provinces, in addition to an average of 250 from up to 80 countries, Dr. Miyares reported, emphasizing that no distinctions are made in the treatment of patients regardless of their origin. All are diagnosed and evaluated by specialists, and self-administered treatment is prescribed.

Founded April 25, 1986, with the support of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, the CHP has a production plant which is currently being updated, with the installation of a bottle filling line for liquid and semi-solid substances, as well as modern water treatment and purification technology.

Given the results obtained in expanding production and exports, the entity became a state enterprise in 2013, with the successful implementation of a self-financing complete-cycle plan of research, production and distribution.

Clinics affiliated with the Center previously existed in Spain, India, Ukraine, Argentina and Brazil, but Cuba could not maintain them given the country’s shortage of hard currency caused by the unjust U.S. blockade. Plans are being considered now to transfer technology to countries interested in investing their own capital in such projects.

One such potential partner is the Mexican state of Campeche, according to Dr. Miyares Díaz, who notes that such joint ventures allow Cuban products to be introduced into the international market, and agreements to export medical services, and training of professionals in postgraduate courses, established.

MORE VALUE ADDED

Melagenina is the only medicine of its kind in the world to treat vitiligo. Photo: Alberto Borrego

Today, research is contributing to the development of new products such as nutritional supplements to treat immunological illnesses, in addition to a line of body, face and hair cosmetics which promote the strengthening of epidermal tissue.

The Center is involved in other endeavors such as postgraduate studies and professional training. Dr. Gabriel Coto Valdés reported, “We have a range of international courses to explain these novel treatments which could allow for the incorporation of our medications in different countries.”

The consulting professor and head researcher noted that the safety of medicines is assured because placentas used in production come from donors in good health, guaranteed by the Cuban public health system, and women who have regular medical check-ups throughout their pregnancies.

Likewise, births take place in state institutions with optimal conditions for the collection of sterile placentas, which are subsequently transported in air-conditioned vehicles and subjected to strict sanitary certification in specialized laboratories. Finally they are processed and active components extracted, Dr. Gabriel Coto, also a biochemist, explained.

Although he is retired, Dr. Coto maintains ties with investigators working on maintaining clean production within a sanitary environment, to allow for efficiency inside facilities and protection of the environment outside.

Other projects underway are looking to improve products and create new medicines such as anti-inflammatory drugs, diagnostic reactants, and supplements, in order to diversify the Center’s portfolio of export products, explained Dr. María Victoria Licea Tornés, director of the research area.

Dr. Licea asserted that more studies could be undertaken to extract other components of the human placenta which is rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other chemical substances as yet little researched, saying, “Recent studies are directed toward taking advantage of the entire organ, including the umbilical cord and membranes.”

Dr. Beatriz Barroso Fleitas, director of Medical Services, reported that the Center is staffed by a team of medical specialists in Dermatology and world-class scientists who offer highly effective, personalized treatment.

The staff also includes university trained nurses who teach patients how to use medications at home, while adult and children’s psychiatrists and psychologists interact with those seeking treatment. These specialists are of special importance since stress is often a factor affecting the progress of patients suffering from skin diseases.

REQUESTING AN APPOINTMENT

Those interested in seeking treatment must personally visit the Center in Cuba, on either the first or third Tuesday of each month. Those living abroad may find information at www.histoterapia-placentaria.cu and request an appointment via the addresses provided on the webpage.

In the event that a personal consultation is not possible, the option exists that a trusted person could bring a patient’s information to the clinic for review.

Dr. Barroso adds that, during their initial consultation, patients are instructed in the characteristics of their disease, as well as treatment options, and offered information to support bio-psycho-social understanding which can lead to improved lifestyles and health.

Patients and professionals interviewed agreed on emphasizing the advantages of this type of therapy, unmatched in the world in effectiveness and safety, while improving quality of life.

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