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.