HPV Vaccine: What's next

May 19, 2006

Merck & Co. celebrated victory when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel made a unanimous recommendation to the FDA to approve the first-ever vaccine to protect against women's cancer. Gardisil (quadrivalent human papillomavirus types 6, 11, 16, 18, recombinant vaccine), a vaccine developed by Merck and tested by UAB investigators, is designed to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted virus thought to be responsible for most cervical cancers. It is being hailed as the biggest breakthrough in women's reproductive cancers since the Pap smear.

But there are still several important milestones left to conquer, says Warner Huh, M.D., gynecologic oncologist and an investigator on the Merck trials and GlaxoSmithKline's HPV vaccine clinical trials.

"The FDA advisory committee's endorsement is a major step toward protecting women from cervical cancer, and we hope to hear a final decision from the FDA by June 8," Huh said. "But more importantly, the national Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) will likely decide this summer whether to endorse routine vaccination with this vaccine. The ACIP's HPV vaccine workgroup is recommending vaccination for girls 11 and 12 years of age. They also will consider recommendations for older adolescents and young adults. This is the committee that will decide whether this vaccine should be part of routine vaccinations for children, like the measles, mumps and rubella or chickenpox vaccines."
-end-
Warner K. Huh, M.D., is a gynecologic oncologist in the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Huh received his M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C. His postgraduate training included a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at UAB. He is board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and gynecologic oncology and is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Huh's research interests include vaccines for cervical neoplasia, in vivo spectroscopy for cervical neoplasia, and the development of novel screening and treatment strategies for gynecologic malignancies. He currently runs the Center for Clinical Research in Cervical Neoplasia at UAB. His clinical interests include minimally invasive surgical approaches and robotic assisted surgery for gynecologic malignancies. He has written articles for Clinical Cancer Research, Gynecologic Oncology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and The Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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