Cervical cancer vaccine for men?

With all of the buzz surrounding the first cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, most people are focusing on its prospect to prevent the disease in women. But men may one day be offered injections to protect themselves from cancer, too.

Gardasil, is expected to go on sale in New Zealand in October for females between the ages of 9 and 24, following trials by its maker, Merck.

GlaxoSmithKline has also produced a similar vaccine called Cervarix. Both vaccines are intended to prevent the occurrence of cervical cancer when administered before the individual is exposed to certain types of the sexually transmitted disease human papilloma virus (HPV.)

Almost all cervical cancers are linked to infection with the genital HPV.

The virus is also linked to anal cancer, which is noted to be at higher rates among men who have had sex with men.

CSL, the company that will supply Gardasil in New Zealand, says the vaccine development and clinical trials focused first on women who have a greater burden from cervical cancer than cancers linked to HPV in men.

But trials are underway to test the vaccine's effectiveness on men and are expected within three years.
Earlier trials conducted by CSL showed the vaccine increased antibody levels against its four target HPV types - two linked to cancer and two to genital warts - in both men and women.

Earlier trials showed the vaccine increased antibody levels against its four target HPV types - two linked to cancer and two to genital warts - in both men and women. CSL officials say that is not enough to say it will reduce diseases in men. More trials are needed.

John T. Schiller, Ph.D., a senior investigator at the Center for Cancer Research National Cancer Institute, said it's unlikely the vaccines would be used on men in the U.S. without proper trials. He worked to develop the technology on which the vaccines were based.

"If it was shown to be effective in preventing genital warts in men, it could provably be approved for men," he notes. "In terms of spread, you may get more bang for your buck vaccinating women rather than men."

"We really have to wait and see," notes Schiller, who says that any talk of the vaccine being used on men is premature.

He says that Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have conducted separate trials. GlaxoSmithKline is working to market the vaccine more so solely an anti-cancer treatment, in which case it would only be applicable for women.

GlaxoSmithKline reported last month that Cervarix provides 100 percent protection over four years against cervical lesions.

Gardasil has already been filed for marketing approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while GlaxoSmithKline aims to submit Cervarix before the end of this year.

It was reported earlier this month that Advaxis, a biotech company, was granted FDA approval to test Lovaxin C, another cervical cancer vaccine, on humans. That vaccine is designed to treat women who have already developed cervical cancer as a result of an HPV infection.

Reviewed:   March 16, 2006 Barbara Hansen BMLSc.
Source:   myDNA.com