joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

And on the hopeful front for HPV, there is currently research being done on something called Listeria monocytogenes to deliver a tumor-specific antigen fusion protein. 

"Pre-clinically, bioengineered attenuated Listeria that secrete Advaxis' proprietary fusion protein have the ability to generate a robust immune response, break immune tolerance to cancer and produce an unusually strong and effective multi-level therapeutic immune response to existing cancer and other diseases. ... The Company's proprietary antigen fusion protein technology stimulates innate immunity: both arms of the adaptive cellular immune system, suppresses regulatory T-cells that inhibit many vaccines in the function of activated tumor-killing cells and has other anti-tumor effects."

What makes this so exciting is that this research is to develop a therapeutic vaccine (as opposed to prophylactic vaccines currently on the market) that would treat women who ALREADY HAVE cervical cancer as a result of HPV.  The limitation to the current Gardasil vaccine is that it doesn't do anything for women who have already been exposed to those strains of HPV.  Since older women are assumed to have more chance to be exposed, we are discouraged from getting the vaccine, if only because the FDA hasn't approved it so insurance won't cover it, making it cost-prohibitive to many of us.  The pap smear has been great for early detection of pre-cancerous cells once we already have HPV, and early detection is responsible for the high success rate in treating cancer and cervical dysplasia.

But for those statistically few women who do not respond to the treatment, or do not detect it early enough, this would be fantastic to be able to give them a shot that contains a vaccine that goes into the body and actively attacks the tumor cells as well as boosting the body's own ability to fight the cancer.

Yay science!

Date: 2/11/09 09:35 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Actually, I was looking up stats on the HPV vaccination for a friend who is considering getting one. It looked like it does actually offer some protection from cervical cancer for women who already have HPV. It's just that you get a very small benefit, especially compared to using it preventativly. I found that because apparently it was explaining why some sites say that the vaccination isn't that helpful, but use an early study on women who had HPV already. And while the vaccination wasn't that helpful for them, the experimental group still did better than the control group (I am fairly sure it was a statistically significant better, just small). I was really surprised to see any benefit. I'm fairly sure I read it correctly when I was looking over it, but obviously I could have made a mistake.

But yeah, the current vaccination is not a solution to the problem of people who already have HPV. And I am so glad that research is continuing.

Date: 2/11/09 10:52 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
*nods* If you can afford it, it definitely makes sense. The arguments I saw against were all financial (as I explained to my friend). And honestly, they're not necessarily wrong. If you're looking at the best value for your health care money and we assume we can't afford everything good, there may be more beneficial ways to spend the money to help people than vaccinating older women for HPV. There is a lot of health care people need and don't get.

But if you're looking at it from a personal point of view of I can either get this or not and you don't need to sacrifice food, rent, more important health care, etc. then you probably want to get it.


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