Cervical cancer vax ready to enter human trials

A low-cost cervical cancer vaccine developed by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers is set to begin testing in human trials.

Cervical cancer kills more than 350,000 women each year and is rampant in developing countries. Furthermore, the two cervical cancer vaccines now on the market--Gardasil and Cervarix--are impractical due to their cost (roughly $360 for each three-shot vaccine), according to the university.

Gardasil and Cervarix are expensive because they use fully assembled virus-like particles made from HPV proteins to stimulate the immune system against the virus. But Bob Garcea, professor in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has determined that an HPV vaccine doesn't require VLPs to work. Instead, subunits called capsomeres work just as effectively at activating the immune system to prevent infection. In addition, capsomeres can be manufactured in large quantities at a fraction of the cost of VLPs.

"This trial is the next important step toward bringing a low-cost HPV vaccine to women most in need," says Garcea. He anticipates the first human trials of the vaccine will begin in a year.

- see the University of Colorado release