Scientists are testing a new vaccine that will aid in preventing the development of cervical cancer in women. Caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), cervical cancer annually infects more than half a million women globally, 200,000 of whom do not survive. It is the second largest cancer killer among women.
Dr. Daron Ferris, who is conducting the tests in the U.S., said "If the vaccine is successful, then we would want to vaccinate the population and that would include vaccinating school-age children at approximately 12 years of age, before individuals become sexually active. Since this is a sexually acquired infection, it would also make sense to vaccinate boys."
The vaccine is targeted to work against the most common type of HPV by creating virus-like particles from protein on the outside of the virus. It deceives the body's immune system into thinking that the virus is attacking it, therefore initiating an immune response.
Scientists believe that eventually, the need for the Pap smear test, which detects pre-cancerous cells on the surface of the cervix, would diminish.
British pathologist, Margaret Stanely, commented that "This work is tremendously exciting and an extremely important development in the fight against a disease that kills so many women in this country and throughout the world."