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Cuba is accelerating its efforts to develop a vaccine against dengue fever, an illness endemic to tropical countries and that kills thousands each year.

The director of Cuba's biotechnology institute said Tuesday that researchers have begun testing a genetically engineered vaccine in monkeys, but remain five years away from an effective vaccine that could safely be used in humans.

"The most effective thing would be to have a preventative vaccine," said Dr. Gerardo Guillen, director of biomedical research at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. "It will be a very important result."

Guillen spoke at the center's Biotechnology 2006 conference on Tuesday that drew 600 participants from 40 countries.
Source: International Herald Tribune

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