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NIH Research Leads to Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Drs. Douglas Lowy and John Schiller

NIH researchers Drs. Douglas Lowy (left) and John Schiller developed the vaccine to prevent HPV infection in women, the cause of the majority of cervical cancers.
Photo courtesy of Judy Folkenberg, NLM Writer

By Judy Folkenberg, Staff Writer, NLM

Cervical cancer kills more than 250,000 women worldwide each year. Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), it is the second deadliest cancer among women.

But thanks to Drs. Douglas Lowy and John Schiller, senior research scientists at NIH's National Cancer Institute, a vaccine is now available to protect against two of the deadliest forms of HPV.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006, Gardasil resulted from advances over 25 years by Lowy, Schiller, and their research teams to boost the body's immune response to HPV infection. The vaccine has been clinically proven to be 100-percent effective.

"It is personally gratifying to unravel a health mystery. Most important, however, is to have a vaccine which potentially can save thousands of lives," says Lowy.

Lowy and Schiller are focusing their research on helping to produce second-generation HPV vaccines for use in developing countries. They are also testing potentially effective ointments made from a wide variety of compounds, including carrageenan, an extract from seaweed.

According to Schiller, "The current vaccine is expensive to make and deliver, so we're trying to devise better, simpler approaches."

To Find Out More

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What's New

  • Community-wide treatment of curable sexually transmitted infections (STDs) reduced STD rates, and improved pregnancy outcomes, but did not reduce new HIV infections, in a recent study supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The study was conducted in a rural region of Uganda where STDs and HIV infection are common.
  • A database designed to accelerate research on sexually transmitted infections (STDs) is now "on line." The STDGEN Relational Database is a collaborative effort between the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Read More "Sexually Transmitted Diseases" Articles
Understanding, Treating, and Preventing STDs / NIH Research Leads to Cervical Cancer Vaccine / NIH Research to Results

Fall 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 4 Pages 20 -  21