News / Health

Researchers Develop Vaccine to Treat Cervical Cancer

Jessica Berman
Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine to treat cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide.  

The World Health Organization estimates that about 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, mostly among women in the poorest regions of the world - sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia.  The disease kills about 274,000 women every year.
 
Most cervical cancers are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus, or HPV.  Two varieties of the sexually-transmitted disease, known as HPV types 16 and 18, cause up to 75 percent of all cervical cancers.

A vaccine already exists to prevent the acquisition and spread of HPV 16 and 18, as well as other strains of HPV that cause genital warts. The new, experimental drug is designed to treat women who already are infected with HPV and who are at risk of developing cervical cancer.

Niranjan Sardesai is chief of research and development for Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania company developing the therapeutic vaccine.
 
“Globally, you know, there is a large unmet need in terms of large numbers of women and men who go unvaccinated.  So the disease burden is there.  And our vaccine, if successful, has the potential to address large populations that are HPV-infected," said Sardesai.

Unlike other vaccines that stimulate an immune response by exposing the body to a bacterial or viral protein, the cervical cancer treatment is what is called a DNA vaccine.  

Researchers make the vaccine using small bits of viral DNA that code for a specific protein.  Once injected, these DNA fragments direct the patient’s cells to produce copies of the infectious protein, or antigen, that stimulate a strong immune response against HPV-infected cells.

Again, chemist Niranjan Sardesai:

“So our approach works exactly like vaccines do, which is you immunize people with the target protein or the target antigen, have your body produce immune responses against the target antigen, with one major difference - we are asking the body to produce the target antigen on its own to which it can then produce an immune response," said Sardesai.

In a safety and effectiveness trial, the treatment stimulated a strong T-cell immune response in a small number of HPV-infected women.  The next step, according to Sardesai, is to conduct a study to see whether the vaccine eliminates HPV infection in a larger group of patients.

Sardesai says the vaccine could potentially treat several cancers stemming from human papilloma virus, including head and neck cancer, vulvar cancer in women, penile and anal cancers, and cancer of the urogenital tract.

An article describing development of the HPV treatment vaccine is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.   

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid