Our roundup of the latest news in the world of human papillomavirus in January 2020.
HPV infections nearly eliminated in England under vaccine scheme
Data from Public Health England has shown that the HPV infection rate of young women in the UK has dropped from 15% to 2% in the last 10 years. In the most recent year, 2018, 10 years after vaccination was introduced, there was no HPV 16/18 infections detected in 16-18 year olds, showing that the programme has succeeded in delivering both direct and indirect protection. Combined with screening programmes a future rid of cervical cancer is possible. As of 2019, boys have been introduced to the HPV vaccination programme. This will not only help to further reduce rates of cervical cancer but will also contribute to the reduction of other HPV-related cancers such as anal and oral cancers, whih don't have routine screening guidelines.
HPV status may affect risk of early death in patients with oropharynx cancer
A study from the Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School has given evidence that patients with HPV-positive oropharynx cancer tumours are at a lower risk of early death than those whose tumours are HPV-negative. Oropharynx cancer is a throat cancer found in the tonsils and in the base of the tongue. Around 75% of oropharynx cancers are caused by a HPV infection, and the incidence of this cancer is rising. Almost 5000 patients were analysed by the study, which looked at patients who had both HPV-positive and -negative tumours. It was found that the percentage of HPV-positive patients at risk of dying from any cause was a less than a third of that of HPV-negative patients. Overall, the study has shown that there is a higher risk of death amongst HPV-negative oropharynx cancer patients, and this information can be used by medical professionals dealing with these cases.
Second Lady of Ghana launches cervical cancer campaign
A nation cervical cancer campaign has been launched by Mrs Samira Bawumia, the Second Lady of Ghana, in order to raise awareness about the disease and its causes. The theme of the campaign is “Cervical Cancer Prevention: a Call to Action” and is focussed on information around HPV, cancer symptoms, and screening. Health professionals have been called to make cervical cancer screening free for all, meanwhile the price has been reduced. The cost of the HPV vaccination has also been reduced by a third, to allow more women to get the cancer-preventing vaccine. There has been a call to action to the media, health professionals, nongovernmental organisations, and more to coordinate in the fight against cervical cancer, and maintain a year-round awareness campaign.
First China-made HPV vaccine approved
China has, for the first time, approved its domestically produced HPV vaccine. Previously, the vaccines in use have been only the ones developed by the USA and the UK. Within China, there has been a large increase in demand for the HPV vaccine as a result of public information campaigns. This has driven the need for a domestically made vaccine, and the National Medical Products Administration hope that it will help to increase public access. The vaccine has received support from the government and will now go through its registration process.
Broadest ever therapeutic HPV vaccine to be tested in clinical trial
A clinical trial set to begin in March is testing a broad HPV vaccine designed to clear infections and reduce the risk of cervical cancer. The trial is being led by a team from Oxford University and aims to target those who shown signs of persistent, high-risk HPV infections, to reduce the chances of developing cancer from the infection. The current vaccine programme in the UK does not protect against all types of HPV and cannot target existing infections. The trial will look at the responses to this new vaccine in a sample of 105 women. The vaccine is broad, protecting against five strains of HPV, rather than one or two as in the current vaccine. This vaccine would also be very beneficial to lower income countries that struggle to fund both vaccination programmes as well as screening.