A vaccine designed to protect against the most common causes of genital warts and cervical and penile cancer is now being evaluated in young men.
The Medical College of Georgia is a site for the first international study of a vaccine that protects against four strains of human papillomavirus in men age 16 to 23.
“It’s a great opportunity for men to protect themselves from developing genital warts and penile cancer,” says Dr. Daron G. Ferris, a principal investigator on the study who directs the MCG Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center. “It’s also a great way for men to protect their sexual partners from developing warts as well as cervical cancer, lower genital tract cancers and precancerous changes of the cervix.”
MCG also is studying the vaccine in boys and girls age 10 to 15 and is still enrolling women age 15 to 45 in several other studies. “We are interested in looking at the efficacy of this vaccine in populations that will become target populations, should the Food and Drug Administration approve the vaccine,” Dr. Ferris says.
MCG was the largest site in North America for the study in women age 15 to 25 of a vaccine for HPV types 16 and 18, the two most common causes of cervical and penile cancer. That vaccine was reported 100 percent effective at preventing the persistent HPV infections that cause cervical cancer in the Nov. 13 issue of the British journal, The Lancet.
This newest study in men protects against HPV types 16 and 18 as well as types 6 and 11, the two most common causes of genital warts.
Men have about an 80 percent lifetime risk of genital warts. Penile cancer is fortunately rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of all cancers in men; the risk is higher in uncircumcised men. About 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States.
“Men and women can both be carriers of HPV,” Dr. Ferris says. “If we do a good job and vaccinate men as well, then it’s less likely that women are going to be at risk. We are really excited about the opportunity to study this vaccine in men.”
The researchers are looking for men age 16 to 23 who are sexually active but have no history of genital warts. Participants will be followed in nine outpatient visits over three years, receive free health evaluations that include testing for sexually transmitted diseases and will be compensated for their time.
Dr. Ferris expects some version of the vaccines will be generally available within five years and that other strains will be added to expand protection against the some 35 types of HPV that affect the genital tract. For more information about the studies, call Angela Richardson, study coordinator, 706-721-2535.
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