HPV is an extremely common virus. It is estimated that by age 50, four out of five women have been infected with the virus at one point throughout their lifetimes. HPV causes ailments such as genital and anal warts and, in some instances, continued infection can lead to the development of benign or cancerous growths of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, tonsils, and base of the tongue. There are more than 100 types of HPV, but only approximately 13 types are associated with cancer development. HPV 16 and 18 alone are estimated to cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers.
Two existing HPV vaccines, Cervarix® and Gardasil®, are effective at preventing disease caused by HPV types 16 and 18, while Gardasil also protects against genital warts caused by HPV 6 and 11. However, these vaccines do not protect against all HPV types that are associated with cancer. Scientists developed an improved vaccine called 9vHPV that targets HPV 16, 18, 6, and 11, and an additional 5 HPV types that are the next most commonly associated with cervical cancer (HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58).
“Based on epidemiological studies, the 9vHPV vaccine could prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical cancer, 90 percent of HPV-related vulvar and vaginal cancer, 70 to 85 percent of high-grade cervical disease in females, and approximately 90 percent of HPV-related anal cancer and genital warts in males and females worldwide,” explained Anna R. Giuliano, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Infection Research in Cancer at Moffitt.