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HPV News: September 2018

1 Oct 2018

The latest monthly roundup of news, announcements and scientific discoveries from the world of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). If you have any comments we’d love to hear from you!

How to Improve Vaccine Uptake in the Netherlands

A study from the Netherlands, examining the health benefits of current and alternative HPV vaccination strategies, was released this month. The aim of the study was to support decision making on improving HPV vaccination uptake and targething, particularly with regards to cervical cancer. Researchers developed a HPV transmission and cervical cancer screening modeling framework by integrating two established microsimulation models of HPV transmission. The study concluded that while the current Dutch vaccination programme has reduced incidences of cancer, it can be improved by increasing vaccination uptake and extending the vaccine to boys.

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Boosting European Confidence in the HPV Vaccine 

Europe has become the region with the lowest level of vaccine confidence in the world. The HPV vaccine is particularly difficult to convince parents of its safety, as there is a perceived sexual element to HPV, and a few that the vaccine will lead to early and/or unsafe sexual practices. A systematic literary review conducted by the Vaccine Confidence Project found that the main reason Europeans are skeptical of the vaccine is dissatisfaction with information, claiming that it is unreliable, biased and incomplete. It is crucial to improve efforts on maintaining and re-building public trust in the health authorities and vaccine providers, as the provision of scientific information alone won’t help reduce anxiety and the vaccine.

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Scientists Find how Human Proteins Interact with HPV 

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have been connecting the dots between HPV and smoking-related cancers. Patients diagnosed with HPV-related cancer often respond different to treatments than patients with head and neck cancer caused by smoking – they usually have a better chance of surviving. To find out why, researchers mapped out the interactions between all HPV proteins and human proteins. They have found what human proteins interact with all types of oropharyngeal cancers, and therefore what proteins could be “potential targets for the development of new drugs or therapies”.

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HPV Vaccination Rate On the Rise in Ireland

There has been a 15% increase in HPV vaccinations being given to girls in Ireland. This rise has happened over the course of just over a year, and has brought the rate up to 65%. This follows a decrease in vaccination rates from a peak of 87% down to 50% at the end of 2016, due to campaigns from anti-vaccination organisations. In response to this decrease, the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) formed the HPV Vaccination Alliance. The group set out to educate people about the vaccine through methods that were accessible to the public, such as social media. This campaign is proving successful and the Alliance will continue to work until rates reach 100%.

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HPV Vaccine Continues to Pose No Major Concerns

A new review of post-licensure data – data collected after a vaccine has been licensed for use – has not found any new or surprising safety concerns of Cervarix, the bivalent HPV vaccine. Of the 241 adverse events reported after vaccination with Cervarix, 95.8 percent of them were deemed non-serious. Tiffany Suragh, the lead author for the report, said “This review provides additional evidence that the bivalent HPV vaccine is safe, and that most adverse reactions are mild and resolve quickly on their own.” The review will hopefully add reassurance to parents and potential patients about the vaccine.

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How to Improve HPV Vaccine Recommendations

Drs. Noel T. Brewer and Melissa B. Gilkey have released a report in HPVWorld on improving provider recommendations for HPV vaccination. Previous studies have found that if a parent has had the HPV vaccine recommended for their child to them by a medical professional, they are 10 times more likely to have their child vaccinated. In order to make an effective recommendation for the vaccine, the authors recommend initiating conversation about the vaccine and feed information throughout, or begin with a ‘presumptive announcement’ – assuming that the child will have the vaccine while they are in the appointment. While this is a rare approach, it has been found to be very effective. The aim is to make recommendations more common, providing more influence for the benefits of the vaccine to combat potentially negative influences that the parent may also be hearing.

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New Vaccine Fights HPV-related Cancer Tumours

A tumour specific vaccine, in the process of being trialled at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre; has been able to shrink tumours in one third of patients with incurable cancers related to HPV. Researchers combined the vaccine ISA101 with nivolumab, an inhibitor that blocks activation of PD-1 in T-cells. They found that the response rate was about twice the rate produced by inhibitors in previous clinical trials. This is the first time a vaccine specific to HPV antigens has been able to fight established cancerous tumours. This discovery could lead to a new weapon in the fight against cancer.

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