Immunity 25, 179–184, August 2006 ª2006 Elsevier Inc. DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2006.08.002
1Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research
The University of Queensland
4th Floor Research Extension
Princess Alexandra Hospital
Woolloongabba Q’land 4102
An Australian newspaper recently bestowed Ian Frazerthe title of ‘‘God’s gift to women’’ for his research team’s part in developing a vaccine to help control
cervical cancer. Here Frazer discusses this work and the science behind the vaccine.
Designed to prevent infection with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a vaccine (Gardasil) recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in 9- to 26-year-old women in the USA is the first pharmaceutical compound specifically developed to prevent
the common human malignancy cervical cancer. Another similar product (Cervarix) should become available next year. These are conventional protein-adjuvant vaccines, comprising alum adjuvanted viral capsids of multiple HPV serotypes assembled from recombinant viral capsid protein. The vaccines, delivered systemically, induce neutralizing antibody, protecting against infection with the incorporated HPV serotypes in skin and at mucosal surfaces. The nature of HPV infection, the consequent health problems, and the host response to infection have been defined during vaccine development,
which has proven a considerable exercise in epidemiology and public health research. The considerable time lag between vaccine deployment and public health benefit, together with perceived effects of vaccine availability on human sexual behavior, is currently influencing vaccine introduction. Nevertheless, HPV vaccines should eventually eliminate a number of epithelial cancers
and reduce the annual burden of cancer deaths globally by 5%–10%.