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Cervical cancer vaccine on its way

A vaccine that could prevent young women from developing most cases of cervical cancer could be available in the market within a few years.

Cervical cancer vaccine on its way

A vaccine that could protect young women from cervical cancer could be available in the market within a few years. Researchers from the Britain's Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine are testing dozens of vaccines against different types of cancer but those that protect women against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, are the most advanced. Results from early trials of two separate vaccines developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, which protect against HPV infection, have been promising. HPV infection is sexually transmitted. More than 75 percent of women are infected with HPV at some time during their lives. It usually lasts for a short time and produces no symptoms. But in some women it can progress to cervical cancer, one of the most common cancer in women. There are more than 100 types of HPV virus, but HPV 16 and 18 are linked to the majority of cervical cancers. Each year 470,000 women around the world are diagnosed with the disease and 230,000, mostly in the developing world, die, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France. Developed countries have screening programmes to detect early signs of cervical cancer, which has a good cure rate if it is diagnosed early. An HPV vaccine would have enormous potential in poor countries where screening is not available. The HPV vaccines are two of many cancer vaccines in development or trials. Scientists are testing different approaches to weaken cancer cell resistance and to boost various types of immune system cells to fight the disease.
Reuters Health,
January 2005
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