April 28, 2005
More than 10,000 woman will find out this year, through doctor recommended 'pap' tests, that certain strands of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) they contracted turned into cervical cancer.
A vaccine that is currently in a three trial phase of development has the potential to greatly reduce that risk. During the most recent phase, more than 1,000 women received three doses of the experimental vaccine or a placebo over six months.
Twenty-seven months later the phase II results were tested at the University of Virginia Medical Center. The vaccine was 100 percent affective against two types of HPV that causes cervical cancer.
"This vaccine was formulated as the first vaccine to try and get the most bang for the buck if you will in that you can take out almost all warts," which is a cosmetic or a physical problem but it's not a life threatening problem, "as well as take out almost all cervical cancer, at least 70 percent," said Dr. Mark Stoler, a Pathologist at UVA.
But there are some obstacles in testing a vaccine that makes sex safer.
"There is the interesting point because when do you get HPV? You get it from having sex so we have to vaccinate young individuals, adolescence," commented Dr. Stoler
Stoler and others want to vaccinate children between 10 and 13 years old. That controversy still continues and so does the testing. Recruitment for a larger Phase III trial of the vaccine is now underway and Stoler is hoping it will help more women in the future.
"Over time if the vaccine trials are successful, evolution will include other HPV types so hopefully you can eliminate not just 70 percent but say 80 or 90 percent," Stoler added.