Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Georgetown Research Leads To First Cancer Vaccine

Date:
June 9, 2006
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
More than twenty years of collaborative research in the Georgetown lab of Dr. Richard Schlegel has resulted in a major medical breakthrough -- the world's first cancer vaccine. The vaccine's technology was generated by a team of Georgetown University researchers in the early 1990s and licensed for commercial development. On June 8, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, which scientists say could eliminate most new cases of cervical cancer worldwide.

More than twenty years of collaborative research in the Georgetown lab of Dr. Richard Schlegel has resulted in a major medical breakthrough — the world’s first cancer vaccine.

The vaccine's technology was generated by a team of Georgetown University researchers in the early 1990s and licensed for commercial development. On June 8, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, which scientists say could eliminate most new cases of cervical cancer worldwide. Called Gardasil, the vaccine blocks four strains of HPV, including two that give rise to nearly 75 percent of cervical cancer cases and two other strains that cause about 50 percent of genital warts.

“It’s a researcher’s dream … to see something that started as a very cerebral idea in the laboratory to advance through animal and clinical trials, gain FDA approval and ultimately have a major global impact,” Schlegel said. “It’s highly unlikely but extremely gratifying to see it through so far.”

Schlegel, professor and chair of Georgetown’s Department of Pathology, in the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, began a research project in the late 1980s studying the molecular biology of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the precursor to most cervical cancers. Looking at the biological makeup of the virus through an advanced microscope, Schlegel said he never imagined he was laying the groundwork for something that could change the face of global medicine.

Instead, he focused on the millions of people worldwide infected with the sexually transmitted disease, particularly those in developing countries where HPV strikes 400,000 women annually. Without access to routine preventative care and annual Pap screening, HPV can develop into cervical cancer, the most common form of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in developing nations.

“We realized these deaths were largely preventable … that’s really all the motivation we needed,” he said.

“For the past two decades, Dr. Schlegel has been a leader in improving public health for men, women and children around the world,” said Stuart Bondurant, MD, interim executive vice-president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center. “His important work to develop a preventative cervical cancer vaccine will save millions of lives and is rooted in Georgetown’s mission of service to others.”

A cell biologist by training, Schlegel came to Georgetown from the National Institutes of Health in 1990 to join forces with immunology and pathology experts A. Bennett Jenson, PhD, and Shin-je Ghim, PhD, who were studying how cervical cancer originates after HPV infection. Together, the researchers based the vaccine on the protein that comprises the virus’s outer shell. This protein stimulates an immune response in the body that attacks the virus, disabling it before reproduction and infection can occur.

“At the time, Georgetown had one of the strongest HPV research programs of any institution in the country ... you couldn’t have asked for a more capable team of people,” Jenson said. “We were the right group of people, at the right time, with the right stars shining in our direction.”

Ghim remembers that once the three researchers began working together, they knew they were on to something. “Progress was slow at first, but we sensed it was coming. No one really believed in a vaccine’s ability to prevent cancer,” she said.

They first tested the vaccine in dogs and found it was 100 percent effective in preventing HPV infection. From there, they licensed the technology to an external company to begin clinical trials, which showed that the vaccine also protected women from contracting the virus.

“Once we were able to grow the virus [in cell cultures], things started happening quickly,” he said. “It didn’t take long at all for the vaccine to move through trials and into the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.”

“The development and approval of this cervical cancer vaccine is a watershed moment in cancer research,” said Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, interim director of Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This promising work will have a major impact on the incidence of cervical cancer here in the United States and around the world.”

Schlegel and another team of colleagues have also been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to work on a second-generation vaccine that is protective and may be therapeutic to treat women infected by HPV.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "Georgetown Research Leads To First Cancer Vaccine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608225351.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2006, June 9). Georgetown Research Leads To First Cancer Vaccine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608225351.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "Georgetown Research Leads To First Cancer Vaccine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608225351.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins