The HPV vaccine: Two decades of research pays off
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted infection around the world . With more than 40 variations and clear linkages to cervical cancer and a range of genital cancers , the challenge to develop a broadly protective vaccine was unparalleled.
Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., and John T. Schiller, Ph.D., spent more than two decades investigating how to prevent HPV infection, culminating in the discovery and production of virus-like particles (VLPs), which block certain mechanisms essential to HPV infection. Their work led to the production of the first commercially available vaccine against the two deadliest forms of the virus, HPV16 and HPV18, in 2006.
The HPV vaccine has been shown to be 100 percent effective, and governments across the globe now recommend routine vaccination of all girls (and in some countries, boys) aged 11 or 12 years. The hope is that widespread vaccination could reduce HPV-associated cancer deaths by up to two-thirds .
Harro CD, Pang YY, Roden RB, Hildesheim A, Wang Z, Reynolds MJ, Mast TC, Robinson R, Murphy BR, Karron RA, Dillner J, Schiller JT, Lowy DR. (2001). Safety and immunogenicity trial in adult volunteers of a human papillomavirus 16 L1 virus-like particle vaccine. J Natl Cancer Inst. 93(4), 284-292.
FDA Licenses New Vaccine for Prevention of Cervical Cancer and Other Diseases in Females Caused by Human Papillomavirus – Rapid Approval Marks Major Advancement in Public Health.