Human papillomavirus (HPV) represents one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Although infection is often self-limited, a percentage of women with HPV infection will go on to develop cervical precancerous or cancerous lesions. It is estimated that HPV16 is responsible for approximately half of all cervical cancers worldwide. Several studies have tested vaccines directed against specific HPV types, namely types 6, 11, 16 and 18. This paper reviews these studies, particularly focusing on a quadrivalent (type 6, 11, 16 and 18) HPV L1 virus-like particle vaccine under investigation in Phase III trials at present. Data indicate that this vaccine, referred to as Gardasil®, can prevent precancerous cervical lesions and early in situ cervical cancers with few adverse effects, and the vaccine has been approved by the FDA for this indication. Another vaccine, HPV16 L1, directed solely against HPV16, has also been demonstrated to be effective (at present, follow-up has been for up to 48 months) in providing protection against persistent infection with this viral strain and preventing HPV16-related cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3, while producing minimal adverse effects in recipients. Given the lack of a pharmacological intervention that can eradicate HPV in infected individuals and the prevalence of cervical cancer secondary to HPV infection across the world, the HPV vaccine represents a significant breakthrough in women's health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Drug Discovery
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cervical cancer
- Human papillomavirus