A VACCINE that protects against nine types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) has been developed by research scientists; this offers significantly greater protection against cervical cancer than the currently available vaccine.
Cervical cancer remains the fourth most common cancer in women, with over 500,000 cases and 250,000 cervical cancer-related deaths per year worldwide. In the UK, for example, approximately 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer per year. The majority of cases are caused by HPV, which is the most commonly sexually transmitted virus, and can also lead to the development of vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat cancers. Previously, only two vaccines, Cervarix® and Gardasil®, were available to protect against HPV-related disease. Gardasil is currently used in the UK and protects against four types of HPV, offering 70% protection against cervical cancer. Gardasil also significantly reduces the risk of other types of cancer and genital warts. However, researchers have been looking for methods to completely eliminate the risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related disease.
The report of the study, co-authored by Prof Jack Cuzick, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK, has led to the development of the new Gardasil 9 vaccine, which protects against an additional five cancer related HPV types. The safety and efficacy of this new vaccine has been compared with the current Gardasil vaccine in a pivotal, international clinical trial with more than 14,200 female participants aged 16–26 years. In uninfected women, Gardasil 9 was 97% effective at preventing high-grade cervical, vulvar, and vaginal disease caused by HBV 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. It was also equally as effective as the current Gardasil vaccine in preventing diseases caused by HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18. The results of the research suggest that vaccinating uninfected populations with Gardasil 9 would lead to the prevention of approximately 90% of all cervical cancers worldwide, a 20% increase in the current level of protection.
Prof Cuzick commented: “This is a significant achievement. The new vaccine, Gardasil 9, is not only safe, but will offer greatly improved protection against cervical and other cancers. Eventually this will mean less screening is needed, as women will have greater protection from the outset.”