Potential Vaccine Could Slow Growth of Cervical Cancer

John B. Liao, M.D.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have made promising advances in finding a vaccine for women infected with human papilloma virus (HPV), which is known to cause cervical cancer.

The findings will be presented March 24 at the 2006 Society for Gynecologic Investigation Annual Meeting in Toronto. The work has been selected for the 2006 SGI President’s Presenter Award.

The researchers used the vesicular stomatitis virus to deliver an HPV protein in mice in order to generate an immune response to attack tumor cells containing HPV proteins. Fourteen days after therapeutic vaccination, tumor volumes in the mice that received a placebo were six times the size of those that received the vesicular stomatitis virus vaccine.

“In addition to demonstrating decreased rates of tumor growth, we also showed that the anti-tumor effect is dependent on the generation of CD8 T cells, a specific class of immune cells,” said John B. Liao, M.D., associate research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women worldwide. While recent advances in vaccination deal with preventing the disease,
the use of vaccination to treat women already infected is also an area of active study. 

Liao said the work is very preliminary. The next step in the research process is studying tumor cells that are closer to the human disease. The team will also look at ways in which the tumor is able to escape immune response.

Other Yale authors on the abstract were Jean Publicover, John K. Rose, professor of pathology and Daniel DiMaio, M.D., the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor and Vice Chair of Genetics and Therapeutic Radiology.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326