Anindya Dutta, PhD, MBBS, and his colleagues have made a discovery about HPV to raise hope for cervical cancer treatment and other cancers caused by the virus, the most common sexually transmitted disease. HPV diseases cause cervical cancer and 95 percent of anal cancers. HPV infection causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts) and it is the most common sexually transmitted disease.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. HPV causes cervical cancers by making a protein that shuts down a healthy cell’s ability to prevent them; but efforts to block one of those proteins, called oncoprotein E6, have so far proven unsuccessful. The virus takes the help of a protein already present in human cells, with the help of an enzyme called USP46, which then become essential for HPV-induced tumor formation.
For instance, it was estimated that approximately 13,240 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. (American Cancer Society 2018). Thousands of people suffer from cervical cancer and die from it all over the world. Now, the vaccine for HPV is available, so we’re hopeful the incidences will decrease. However, vaccines for the treatment of cervical cancer are expensive and hence not many prefer to take it.
The HPV vaccine is yet to be integrated into the Universal immunization Programme in India due to sensitivity safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Cervical cancer is the second type of cancer in females in India. For instance, it was estimated that around 97,909 suffered from cervical cancer in 2015, and projected to go up to 1,04,060 by 2020 (National Health Profile 2017).
Vaccine for the prevention of HPV infection is called Gardasil 9. But it had been previously approved for minors and people up to 26 years of age. On October 2018, the government expanded the coverage of HPV vaccine for men and women aged 27 to 45 years. It protects against 9 strains of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), those most likely to cause cancers and genital warts (USFDA).