Research ArticleHPV

Immunotherapy Against HPV16/18 Generates Potent TH1 and Cytotoxic Cellular Immune Responses

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Science Translational Medicine  10 Oct 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 155, pp. 155ra138
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004414

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Shocking HPV into Submission

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is frequently asymptomatic but can lead to the development of cervical cancer in infected women. Current vaccines against HPV are quite effective at preventing infection; however, there is no vaccine to help those already infected. Now, Bagarazzi et al. report that a therapeutic vaccine for HPV can induce an immune response in a phase 1 study.

VGX-3100 is a candidate vaccine for the high-risk HPV serotypes 16 and 18. Here, 18 women previously treated for cervical neoplasia—a precursor to cervical cancer—were given the DNA vaccine VGX-3100 by electroporation—where a small localized electric pulse accompanies the injection—in a range of doses. Previous attempts at DNA vaccination have proved less than successful in clinical trials; however, preclinical studies suggest that electroporation may greatly enhance the efficacy of the vaccine. The authors show that the electroporation-delivered VGX-3100 induces a robust HPV-specific immune response in previously infected individuals and that the vaccine is safe and immunogenic. Although efficacy remains to be tested in a larger trial, the enhanced immune response elicited by VGX-3100 may attack HPV-infected cells, potentially inducing cancer regression in individuals already infected with HPV.

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