The world’s first vaccine designed to prevent cancer was not developed by a pharmaceutical company. Instead, its development was funded by public institutions on two continents, including three universities, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The vaccine prevents human papillomavirus (HPV), an ailment that can lead to deadly cervical cancer. HPV is spread through sexual contact, and 80% of males and females become infected during their lifetimes. But, thanks the to HPV vaccine, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
How the HPV vaccine works
The HPV vaccine relies on virus-like particles (VLPs). The VLPs in the HPV vaccine share the same outer protein coat (L1) as human papillomavirus, however, the VLPs do lack the genetic material in HPV necessary to infect a human. The outer protein coat is the key to how the vaccine works. Thanks to the protein coat, the VLPs can assemble in the same way as HPV, and this structural similarity allows the components of the vaccine to produce an immune response without subjecting the patient to the virus in any way. It’s not a neutered or dead form of the virus as in the influenza vaccine – it’s no virus at all.
3 schools, 4 research groups, & (at least) 4 patents
The creation of the HPV vaccine was an effort two decades in the making. Researchers at Georgetown University are credited with the dominant patent for the the HPV vaccine due to their initial background research, however, the Georgetown team never……….