Experimental Vaccine Might Help Women Already Infected With HPV

Small study found it spurred an immune response in women who had precancerous cervical lesions

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"The [preventive] vaccines that we have are excellent and highly efficacious in women who receive them prior to their sexual debut," said Dr. Mark Einstein, a gynecologic oncologist and director of clinical research of women's health at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "But despite strong recommendations for routine vaccination, for various reasons the uptake of these vaccines has been very small, with so far just 15 percent of all vaccine-eligible girls having received all three doses needed."

"And then the problem is that these vaccines do not induce any disease regression in someone who is already exposed to HPV," Einstein added. "So the benefit of a therapeutic vaccine is that it will go after the disease itself. For the 300,000 women who are conservatively estimated to be undergoing surgical procedures to treat precancerous cervical lesions each year in the U.S., this raises the hope of someday having a nonsurgical approach to manage this problem. That would have to be the Holy Grail."

More information

For more on cervical cancer and human papillomavirus, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

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