UVA Professor Tests Vaccine


UVA Professor Tests Vaccine

By Claudia Pinto / Daily Progress staff writer

May 2, 2005

An experimental vaccine reduces viruses that cause most cervical cancers and genital warts by more than 90 percent, according to an international study that involves a University of Virginia researcher.

In the study, 277 uninfected women ages 16 to 23 received the vaccine and 275 got the placebo. The vaccine was administered three times during a six-month period. The women, including some UVa students, were then followed for two years to see if they contracted warts or had abnormal Pap smear test results.

"The only people who got lesions or warts got the placebo," said Dr. Mark H. Stoler, a UVa professor of pathology and gynecology.

The vaccine contains parts of four different human papillomaviruses, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and almost all genital warts. Once administered, the body creates antibodies at such high levels that infection is blocked.

"HPV vaccines are on the horizon and they are going to work," Stoler said.

In the United States, nearly 4,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. Worldwide, the annual death toll is 350,000.

The disease is most deadly in Third World countries where women aren't able to receive regular Pap smear exams, which detect cell changes well before cancer develops.

"If every woman were to get appropriate screening there would be no cervical cancer because we could identify it early and treat it appropriately," said Dr. Chris Peterson, director of gynecology for UVa's department of student health, which was one of the study sites.

While no one dies from genital warts, they are still a huge medical problem. It's estimated that 1 million Americans are diagnosed as having them each year.

"They are uncomfortable, but the biggest discomfort is the emotional discomfort," Peterson said. "They wonder, where did I get this? Did it come from my current sexual partner? Is my partner with another partner? They worry about what to tell their future partners. Or if they have inadvertently exposed someone they care about."

Peterson said genital warts show up months or years after exposure. The warts usually go away naturally, but it can take as long as a year or two.

Most people opt to have them cut off, frozen or chemically removed. But even then, they can come back if they weren't all taken off.

Stoler says both men and women should receive the vaccine when it becomes available. "Men get warts," he said. "Men transmit the disease."

And the earlier people are vaccinated, he says, the better.

"It's important for people to get vaccinated before they are infected. So that means before they have sex," Stoler said. "What group is this? Ten- to 14-year-olds."

The vaccine could be on the market in two or three years.

From: http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP%2FMGArticle%2FCDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031782473194&path=!news

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