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How Cervical Cancer Vaccines Came to Be
Date:1/18/2013

to respond against the virus. Next up were phase 2 trials, which helped determine the lowest dose necessary to create an immune response.

Two large phase 3 trials followed, which Saah said together involved nearly 20,000 people. Their purpose was to assess both safety and efficacy.

Based on the positive results of these trials, the vaccine, which was developed by Merck and is now named Gardasil, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2006. Since that time, another HPV vaccine -- Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline -- also has been approved to prevent cervical cancer.

"Gardasil was the first HPV vaccine specifically designed to prevent cervical cancer," Saah said. "It [targets] four HPV types: HPV 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts, and HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers." In addition to cervical cancer, HPV has also been linked to cancers of the anus, penis, vagina and vulva, and to some cancers of the throat, according to Saah.

More information

Read more about all of the cancer vaccines that are being researched.

SOURCE: Alfred Saah, M.D., director, vaccines clinical research, Merck and Company, Whitehouse Station, N.J.


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