Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections with oncogenic types account for approximately 500,000 deaths per year worldwide, predominantly in underdeveloped countries. The major cause of death is cervical cancer in women, but some additional cancers of the head and neck and anogenital sites also have an HPV etiology. Current virus-like particle-based vaccines are in clinical trials, and show very strong, long-lasting protection against vaccine-matched HPV types. These vaccines currently contain virus-like particles for the HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 (Gardasil®) and HPV16 and -18 (Cervarix ®). Although type-specific neutralizing antibodies develop from immunizations with these virus-like particle vaccines, promising evidence for cross-protection against related but nonvaccine HPV types is emerging. Strategies to increase cross-protection to cover all oncogenic HPV types (currently approximately 20 types) are underway. These strategies include increasing the number of HPV types in the virus-like particle vaccine, and to the development of second-generation HPV vaccines that include the minor coat protein.
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