Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are a leading cause of virus-associated cancers of the anogenital, oropharyneal and cutaneous epithelium. The most prevalent of these is cervical cancer, which is responsible for ∼500,000 deaths annually worldwide. A group of about 15 serologically unrelated 'high-risk' HPV types are responsible for almost all HPV-associated cancers. Prevention of papillomavirus infection can be achieved by induction of capsid-specific neutralising antibodies in preclinical animal papillomavirus models and in recent human clinical trials. High titres of conformationally- dependent, type-specific HPV-neutralising antibodies are triggered by HPV virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines. Overcoming the problems of type-specificity of the responses to these VLP vaccines is a potentially important area of current HPV vaccine research, with an emphasis on induction of more broadly cross-protective neutralising responses. Viral oncogenes EG and E7 are continuously present in HPV-associated cancers and are prime targets for HPV therapeutic vaccines. A variety of approaches are being tested in therapeutic vaccine clinical trials and in various preclinical animal papillomavirus models for efficacy. Approaches include genetic vaccines, recombinant virus vaccines, dendritic cell-based strategies, immunomodulatory strategies and various combination strategies to maximise cell-mediated immunity to papillomavirus proteins present in HPV infections and cancers. The success of preventive HPV VLP vaccines in clinical trials is clear. However, current therapeutic vaccine trials are less effective with respect to disease clearance. Nevertheless, a series of combination approaches have shown significant therapeutic enhancement in preclinical papillomavirus models and await testing in patient populations to determine the most effective strategy. There is much encouragement that HPV vaccines will be the most effective approach to prevention and cure of infections caused by this group of viruses, which represent a significant human pathogen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)