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Second Cervical Cancer Vaccine Ready for Market

A second cervical cancer vaccine has passed a key clinical trial and its maker is seeking to use the vaccine in countries around the world. As VOA's Carol Pearson reports, more women may be able to use this new vaccine by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline than use the first cervical cancer vaccine, Gardisil.

When drug maker Merck made Gardisil available in 2006, it was the first vaccine designed to prevent cancer in humans, specifically cervical cancer. Gardisil is recommended for girls and women ages nine to 25 before they become sexually active.

But now a second vaccine, Cervarix, has proven effective in clinical trials for women up to the age of 45, including those who are sexually active.

Dr. Gary Dubin oversaw clinical trials of Cervarix that involved more than 18,000 women from 14 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin and North America.

He says the results show Cervarix provides 100 percent protection against two major strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which cause cervical cancer.

"The reason this is important is that these two HPV types are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers globally."

Dr. Levi Downs is an investigator in the Cervarix study at the University of Minnesota. He adds, "Secondly, and very important, they show us the vaccine is also effective against other HPV types that can cause cervix cancer.

Virtually 100 percent of women have the potential of receiving some benefit from this vaccine."

The studies also show Cervarix is effective even for women who previously had cancerous lesions, provided those lesions have been cleared.

More than half a million women around the world will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. The disease will claim the lives of nearly 300,000 women.

GlaxoSmithKline has initiated a study comparing Cervarix with Gardisil to see if one vaccine is more effective than the other. So far, no data is available.

But with the expected approval of Cervarix in many countries, women can add another weapon in their arsenal against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

Video Courtesy of Glaxosmithkline