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U.S. News

Cervical Cancer Fight Lands at University of Alabama-Birmingham

May 18, 2009

A new, less expensive vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) will be tested at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) beginning late this year or early next year.

The candidate vaccine was developed by Richard B.S. Roden at Johns Hopkins University. Roden, who trained at the National Cancer Institute, designed it to protect against a wider range of viral types than the only HPV vaccine currently on the US market, Gardasil, which protects against four types linked to 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. The candidate can also be produced for perhaps less than $1 per dose.

According to Roden, the difference is the design. Gardasil contains what are essentially empty HPV viruses, or capsids. These capsids trick the immune system into thinking the body has been invaded by HPV, resulting in at least seven years of immunity from types included in the vaccine, he explained.

Animal studies of the candidate vaccine show it produces an immune response against all 15 HPV types known to cause cervical cancer, said Roden. "The animal data is very supportive that it will work. My biggest concern is how long the protection will last," he said, adding that the clinical trials will provide that information.

UAB will be the sole testing site for the candidate vaccine, said Dr. Warner H. Huh, a gynecologic oncologist at the school who worked on the Gardasil vaccine trials and will head the new clinical trials. UAB serves mainly minority, rural, and poor communities -- groups at higher risk for cervical cancer. In addition, the region has high rates of smoking, a risk factor for cervical cancer.

The new vaccine's safety trial will involve about 50 volunteers. A second trial will concentrate on dosing. If warranted, a third will likely expand in scope to involve many more medical centers and participants.

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Birmingham News
03.30.2009; Dave Parks

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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