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Broad-Spectrum Cervical Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise

Tests in animals get good results against more types of HPV, study finds

TUESDAY, May 26, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- An investigational broad-spectrum cervical cancer vaccine induced strong immune responses in mice and rabbits, and protected them against human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 for four months, new research has found.

Current HPV L1-based vaccines provide almost 100 percent protection against the two types of HPV that cause 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases worldwide, but they are expensive and offer only limited protection against other HPV types that cause cancer, according to the researchers. The new vaccine may help cover that gap in protection, they noted.

When the candidate vaccine was used with a substance such as alum to stimulate immune response, the animals were protected against infection by HPV type 16, the study found.

"Clinical studies are warranted" to assess the safety of these types of vaccines, wrote Richard Roden, of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues. If this new type of vaccine proves effective, "its simpler manufacturing process could make the local production of such a vaccine highly feasible, which might achieve the goal of producing it at sustainable prices in emerging countries and lead to its widespread implementation in the developing world," the researchers said.

The study appears online Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

A broad-spectrum HPV vaccine could solve the shortcomings of current vaccines -- they're too expensive to be used in much of the world and they don't protect against enough HPV types -- Dr. F. Xavier Bosch, of the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

The results of this study "open the door to a novel family of second generation HPV vaccines with significant potential value in the public health horizon. As soon as appropriate, Phase 1 trials in humans should be initiated," Bosch wrote.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about HPV.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, May 26, 2009
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