Cervical and other anogenital cancers are initiated by infection with one of a small group of human papillomaviruses (HPV). Virus-like particle-based vaccines have recently been developed to prevent infection with two cancer-associated HPV genotypes (HPV16, HPV18) and have been ∼95% effective at preventing HPV-associated disease caused by these genotypes in virus-naive subjects. Although immunization induces virus-neutralizing antibody sufficient to prevent infection, persistence of antibody as measured by current assays does not appear necessary to maintain protection over time. Investigators have not identified a reliable surrogate immunological marker of protection against disease following immunization. The prophylactic vaccines are not therapeutic for existing infection. Trials of HPV-specific immunotherapy have shown some efficacy for existing disease, although animal modeling suggests that a combination of immunization and local enhancement of innate immunity may be necessary for optimal therapeutic outcome. HPV prophylactic vaccines are the first vaccines designed to prevent a human cancer and are the practical outcome of a global collaborative effort between basic and applied scientists, clinicians, and industry.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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