Home > In the News, Preventable Diseases, Science & Research > Vaccines Can Not Only Prevent Cancer, But May Soon Be Able to Cure It

Vaccines Can Not Only Prevent Cancer, But May Soon Be Able to Cure It

HPV112315HPV is such a common virus that nearly all sexually active individuals will contract the virus at some point in their lives.

It’s estimated that 79 million people (about 1 in 4) are currently infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) and about 14 million people become newly infected each year in the U.S. alone.  Yet, there is no cure for HPV and in some cases the virus will develop into cancer years, or even decades, after initial exposure. This results in about 270,000 people who are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers in the U.S. each year to include cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus or throat.

While the CDC currently recommends that parents get their sons and daughters the HPV vaccine series between the ages of 11-12 to prevent future cases of HPV and HPV-related cancers, the reality is that many people are already infected and are spreading the virus to others.

Good News For Those Already Infected

Mayumi Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is researching a new vaccine that is designed to cure HPV, cause pre-cancerous lesions to disappear, and provide future protection against HPV. Following the success of the vaccine’s phase I trials, Dr. Nakagawa is now continuing with stage II trials with the support of a $3.5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over the next five years.

Preventing HPV Infection

Current HPV vaccines are scientifically proven to be both safe and effective in preventing  HPV infection. However, to be most effective, boys and girls should complete a three shot series prior to their sexual debut.  A recent study showed the vaccine to be 83% effective in preventing the spread of HPV in women who had never come in contact with the virus, but only 53% effective for those who had previous contact with it.  An added bonus of getting kids vaccinated at the recommended age of 11-12 years of age is that studies have shown that the vaccine produces a greater immune response with a higher antibody count to fight infection when given at a younger age as opposed to waiting until a child is in their teens.

What Makes This New HPV Vaccine Different?

While this new vaccine doesn’t appear to be designed to replace the current HPV vaccines, it does have the potential to help cure people who have already contracted HPV.

During the phase I study, which involved 34 HPV infected woman, Dr. Nakagawa observed a 90% reduction of the targeted virus in these initial trials. Patients were divided into groups that received different dosages and for those who got the lowest dose — which was determined to be the most effective — their precancerous lesions disappeared in half of the patients in three months. The vaccine also appeared to be effective against the most aggressive form of HPV.

Unfortunately, at the three-month mark, the study participants had surgical procedures to remove the lesions and therefore, the vaccine’s effect on the precancerous lesions could no longer be observed.  Plans for phase II will allow for involvement of a greater number of women (80), that will be observed over a longer period of time (12 months). It is hoped that the longer observation period will result in a greater reduction of lesions in a larger number of patients.

If after 12 months there’s no evidence of the virus or cervical lesions, study participants will be considered cured and will not have to undergo any surgical procedures. Surgery typically increases the incidence of preterm delivery, so by leaving the cervix intact the vaccine can also help lower the risk of future preterm deliveries. For women who don’t respond to the vaccine, the study will then pay for them to have the surgical procedure to remove the lesions.

If the clinical trials are successful, and the FDA approves this therapeutic vaccine, it could become the fist line of therapy for people with HPV.  It’s estimated that if the vaccine makes it through phase III trials, it could be on the market in seven years.

Curing Cancer Into the Future

Nakagawa_Mayumi_MD600It’s quite possible that this vaccine could hold the secret to treating other cancers in the future.  As Dr. Nakagawa, explains,

“Part of the vaccine is to stimulate an immune response in general, so it can be used for many other cancers. One thing we are in the very beginning phase is combining it with a part of prostate cancer and seeing whether this can be applied to prostate cancer. So in theory, it can be applied to many other cancers.”

Vaccine innovation like this is exciting.  It’s already quite encouraging to know that our current HPV vaccine is capable of preventing cancer.  Now, to imagine the development of new vaccines that can help to cure cancer…that’s just another wonderful way that we are using science to help save lives.  

If you’re looking for more information about the safety and benefit of the currently recommended 9-valent HPV vaccine, be sure to read another Shot of Prevention blog post entitled “Questioning Whether to Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine?  Read This“.

  1. Agacia
  2. Lawrence
    April 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    The ACP is a fringe organization dedicated to an anti-homosexual agenda….sorry, but their “concerns” aren’t even close to being valid.

    Like

  3. Mateo Joaquín
    April 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Agreed Agacia. This vaccine is one of the worst and most dangerous vaccines out there. I love how it is called a cancer vaccine. Last I heard HPV is a virus which can lead to cancer. The US has a lot to learn and I guess they will have to learn it the hard way, and unfortunately, innocent children will pay the price. What a shame and what a tragedy.

    Like

  4. Bruno Valdez
    April 6, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Esta es una muy mala vacuna.

    Like

  5. Federico
  6. Lee
    April 6, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Bad vaccine

    Like

  7. Chris
    April 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Could you all post something a little bit more scientific, like PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers?

    Like

  8. Bill buttlicker
    April 7, 2016 at 9:17 am

    The idea that a vaccine can prevent cancer 40+ yrs down the road is absolutely laughable.

    Like

  9. Lawrence
    April 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Why? Why don’t you explain your reasoning?

    Like

  10. Bill buttlicker
    April 7, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Because there is no point trying to reason with big pharma death cult.

    Like

  11. Lawrence
    April 7, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I thought as much….and you wonder why no one takes anti-vaxers seriously….

    Like

  12. Christine Vara
    April 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    @agacia @bruno @lee @Federico You do realize that the article is about a vaccine that is currently in clinical trials, right? It’s absurd that you’ve come here to comment and are claiming the vaccine is “the worst”, “dangerous” and “bad”, but it is still being researched and years from even coming to the market. (But you’re probably trying to criticize the HPV vaccine, which truly has the potential to be a cancer moonshot!) I think you just don’t like the idea of a vaccine being able to prevent cancer AND now even cure it. Which is why I’ve determined that you must be pro-disease supporters who are really not at all interested in preserving individual and public health. Instead, it seems as though you would prefer the next generation to suffer with cancers that we can actually prevent and women to undergo painful surgical procedures to remove pre-cancerous lesions in their cervix that will directly increase their risk of preterm deliveries. I sincerely hope you don’t have children who are relying on you to help keep them healthy.

    Like

  13. Christine Vara
    April 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    @Bill it’s not an “idea” that a vaccine can prevent cancer, it’s a reality. Have you ever known anyone who suffered or died from cervical cancer? If so, than you’ve known someone who had HPV (since cervical cancers are almost all caused by HPV). This site may help you understand it better. http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-fact-sheet

    Also, why do you have to insult others by calling them a “death cult” when we are advocating for vaccines that will prevent cancer and save lives. In other words, we are advocating for healthy lives, NOT early death!

    Like

  14. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
    April 10, 2016 at 11:55 am

    @ Bill bootlicker

    Can a vaccine prevent cancer 40 years down the line? Cancer develops in stages, each stage brought about by a mutation in a gene. It is estimated that between 5 – 7 mutations are necessary for cancer to develop (using different definitions the number can be higher). Most mutations are random; but some are caused by environmental factors such as chemicals, radiation, and viruses. Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of cervical cancers (over 90%) are linked to only a few strains of the papilloma virus. Many people infected with the papilloma virus will not develop cancer; but those who do develop cancer almost all have been infected with the papilloma virus. The mechanism by which the papilloma virus causes mutations is known. Why is it so difficult to believe that a process can take years to develop? And cervical cancer doesn’t always take as long as 40 years, sometimes a much shorter time period. There are a number of other viruses besides the papilloma that contribute to the development of cancer, e.g. Hepatitis B, Epstein-Barr. And there are now studies showing that cervical dysplasias (changes in appearance of cells) and cancers have decreased following introduction of the vaccine. Do you reject the findings that Hepatitis B causes cancer? To understand cancer and viruses, I recommend:

    Weinberg, Robert A (1998). One Renegade Cell: How Cancer Begins.

    Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2010). The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. [look up viruses in Index for specific pages]

    Tortora, G et al. (2013). Microbiology: An Introduction. [Chapter 13, Viruses, Viroids, and Prions, Section “Viruses and Cancer”]

    Like

  15. Lisa
    April 20, 2016 at 10:43 am

    You think the vacinne is bad? Try having vulva cancer… That is bad!!! I know cause I live with it

    Like

  16. Andrew
    April 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Lisa, I am sorry you have cancer. You don’t have to choose one or the other. I believe cancer is bad and I also believe vaccines are bad.

    Like

  17. Gray Falcon
    April 21, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Andrew, there are people out there that believe the Earth is flat. Beliefs aren’t important here, facts are.

    Like

  18. Andrew
    April 21, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Gray F, so you are stating that cancer is good? I believe it is bad. We can agree to disagree.

    Like

  19. Chris
    April 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    No, that is not what Gray is saying.

    Like

  20. Lawrence
    April 22, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Andrew is just being petulant. He ignores the fact that great strides have been made in fighting (and curing) various Cancers.

    Anti-cancer vaccines (like HepB & HPV) are just the start of a whole series of new methods of not only treating Cancer, but preventing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Andrew
    April 22, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Vaccines carry a risk and there are many better ways to prevent and even cure cancer.

    Like

  22. Lawrence
    April 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    And what would those be?

    Like

  23. Gray Falcon
    April 22, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Andrew: Do you see this?
    http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/

    That’s how many people there are on the Internet right now. Every one of them has an opinion. I’m not obligated to believe all of them, why should I believe yours?

    Like

  24. Shari B
    April 25, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    “There is no actual evidence that the vaccine can prevent any cancer. From the manufacturers own admissions, the vaccine only works on 4 strains out of 40 for a specific venereal disease that dies on its own in a relatively short period, so the chance of it actually helping an individual is about about the same as the chance of her being struck by a meteorite.”

    Like

  25. Chris
    April 25, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Shari B, please provide the PubMed indexed publication where that was said.

    Like

  26. Lawrence
    April 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    That’s just a quote posted on a variety of anti-vax websites…..with no proof whatsoever of its content.

    Like

  27. Chris
    April 26, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    And we are supposed to mindlessly believe it? It looks like it just sucks in some sheeple who do not know how to think for themselves and rationally evaluate scientific evidence.

    Like

  28. Nathan
    April 30, 2016 at 1:58 am

    “From the manufacturers own admissions, the vaccine only works on 4 strains out of 40 for a specific venereal disease that dies on its own in a relatively short period, so the chance of it actually helping an individual is about about the same as the chance of her being struck by a meteorite.”

    As the strains that the vaccine covers cause ~80% of all cervical cancers, and there are 12,000 cases of cervical cancer in the United States each year, I’d say either your math is bad or you have great faith in meteorites.

    Like

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