Preventative and therapeutic vaccines for cervical cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


'High-risk' genotypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV), most commonly HPV genotype 16, are the primary etiologic agents of cervical cancer. Indeed HPV DNA is detected in 99% of cervical carcinomas. Thus, cervical cancer and other HPV-associated malignancies might be prevented or treated by the induction of the appropriate viral-antigen-specific immune responses. Transmission of papillomavirus may be prevented by the generation of antibodies to capsid proteins L1 and L2 that neutralize viral infection. HPV L1 virus-like particles (VLPs) show great promise as prophylactic HPV vaccines in ongoing clinical trials but L2-based preventative vaccines have yet to be tested in patients. Since the capsid proteins are not expressed at detectable levels by infected basal keratinocytes or in HPV-transformed cells, therapeutic vaccines generally target the nonstructural early viral antigens. Two HPV oncogenic proteins, E6 and E7, are critical to the induction and maintenance of cellular transformation and are co-expressed in the majority of HPV-containing carcinomas. Although other early viral antigens show promise for vaccination against papillomas, therapeutic vaccines targeting E6 and E7 may provide the best opportunity to control HPV-associated malignancies. Various candidate therapeutic HPV vaccines are currently being tested whereby E6 and/or E7 are administered in live vectors, as peptides or proteins, in nucleic acid form, as components of chimeric VLPs, or in cell-based vaccines. Encouraging results from experimental vaccination systems in animal models have led to several prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine clinical trials. Should this new generation of HPV preventative and therapeutic vaccines function in patients as demonstrated in animal models, oncogenic HPV infection and its associated malignancies could be controlled by vaccination. Importantly, recent advances in HPV detection and continued improvements in screening further enhance our opportunities to systematically eradicate HPV-associated malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-516
Number of pages22
JournalExpert review of vaccines
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003


  • Cervical cancer
  • Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte and tumor immunology
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Immunotherapy
  • L2
  • Tumors specific antigens
  • Vaccine
  • Virus-like-particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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