New HPV vaccine gives hope for future cancer treatment

New HPV vaccine gives hope for future cancer treatment
A new HPV vaccine could be a breakthrough in treatment. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's said to be the sole cause of the too often deadly cervical cancer among women, human papillomavirus, or HPV.

While a controversial vaccine came out a few years ago, there's now talk of a vaccine with the bonus of being a possible cure. We're talking a cure that comes in something as simple as a shot and that cure not only has the potential to be lifesaving, it could also save a woman's fertility.

It's getting the attention of anyone who knows how devastating human papillomavirus can be.

"It's really exciting a shot can do something like that," Niki Pearce, a Cleveland Clinic OB/GYN nurse practitioner, said. "It looks like it's moving forward and it
looks like it's a real thing that can actually work for us."

Dr. Mayumi Nakagawa, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, is responsible for the breakthough and is finishing up clinical trials on 34 women already infected.

"After the vaccination the virus were are targeting went down 90 percent," she said, "so we are intending to observe longer in this current phase, which is phase two. We are hoping we can clear the virus during that time."

That means clearing HPV lesions without invasive surgery, the kind of surgery that currently threatens fertility.

"(It is) really, really reassuring to a lot of women," Pearce said. "We know the more we do surgery or any intervention with the cervix it can affect the body's ability to maintain a pregnancy."

When you consider it's estimated 25 percent of women contract HPV, it's even more clear why this is so important.

But the researcher is hopeful there's much more to come from her finding.

"Part of the vaccine is to stimulate an immune response in general so it can be used for many other cancers," Pearce said.

Prostate cancer is the next type of cancer the vaccine will be put to the test on. This work is so encouraging; Dr. Nakagawa was just given a $3.5 million gr ant from the National Institutes of Health to move it forward.

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