By Vera Gruessner
It seems that cancer vaccines may be the future of medicine. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, for instance, has led to a drop in the virus that leads to cancer. CNN reports that since the HPV vaccine was recommended for teenage girls in 2006, the likelihood of infection with this virus has fallen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the rates of the viral infection in females between 14 to 34 years of age in 2003 to 2006 and then the rates in women between the years 2009 to 2012. The researchers found that, among teenage girls 14 to 19 years of age, the infection levels dropped from 11.5 percent to 4.3 percent. Among young women 20 to 24 years old, the rate fell from 18.5 percent to 12.1 percent.
“These results are very encouraging and show the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Dr. Lauri E. Markowitz, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC and lead author, told the news source. “Eventually we expect to see decreases in HPV in older groups as women who were young (enough to get the vaccine) age.”
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also updated the childhood immunization recommendations to include different and potentially more effective HPV vaccine requirements. National Public Radio reported that, among children who suffered sexual abuse, the HPV vaccine is recommended a couple of years earlier.
Currently, the HPV vaccine is recommended for children who are 11 or 12 years old. The human papillomavirus is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact but young adults can become infected with it through other means. The vaccination schedule set up to help children who were sexually abused recommends 9 and 10-year-old children to receive the HPV vaccine.
“It is an ubiquitous, tragic and unfortunate reality,” Mark Schleiss, director of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota, told the source. “Perhaps this language will help remind primary care physicians that they need to be asking their patients about sexual abuse. These perpetrators are usually someone the child knows and trusts and even loved ones, so it’s a very delicate issue, but we just have to get past the denial that these things don’t happen to young children.”
Researchers have also commented on how the vaccine has “staying power,” as it is often still protective 30 years after the first shot. Cancer vaccines like the HPV vaccine have been a newer and more innovative solution to preventing cancer and hopefully bringing the high rates of cancer to drop.
Over the last handful of years, Dr. Vincent Tuohy and his team at the Cleveland Clinic have worked to develop the breast cancer vaccine, which has shown to prevent breast cancer in 100 percent of mice studied. The results showed that a vaccine of alpha-lactalbumin prevented tumors from forming in mice that were bred to develop breast cancer.
Very recently, the Cleveland Clinic began clinical trials on the breast cancer vaccine to see if it is as safe and effective in women as in mice. The first phase of the trials will involve learning more about safety and correct dosage of the vaccine. To learn more about Dr. Tuohy’s preventive breast cancer vaccine, click here and here.