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Vaccines for cervical cancer

4th September 2006

04092006_cervical_cancer1.jpgFigures show that more than 800 lives each year could be saved by a vaccine that could cut the number of cervical cancer deaths in Britain by more than three quarters.
 
These figures were produced by a computer model that is used by experts funded by GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the Cervarix vaccine. The model used was based on the assumption that all 12-year-old girls in the UK were vaccinated, and that women participated in the cervical screening programme. If only 80 per cent of girls were vaccinated cancer cases and deaths are predicted to fall by 61 per cent.

The vaccine protects against infection from the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, targeting HPV 16 and HPV 18, the commonest cause of the disease. It is intended for use in girls who are not yet sexually active. It is believed that HPV 16 and 18 are also involved in cancers of the vulva and vagina. While they are comparatively rare, the vaccine could also protect against them.

In trials the vaccine has also been effective against two other HPVs, 45 and 31, the third and fourth most common strains. Deaths could then be cut by a further 3 per cent. 

The study is being presented, along with other studies, at the International Papillomavirus Conference in Prague. New results from a rival vaccine, Gardasil, made by Merck and to be marketed in the UK by Sanofi Pasteur were also presented. Gardasil is designed to protect against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 and the results reported yesterday suggest that it is also effective against 31, 45, 52 and 58. 
 
 

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