A genetically engineered vaccine appears to direct the immune system to kill tumors caused by human papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16), report researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.
Their research appears in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Virology.
HPV-16 is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and is associated with most cervical cancers. A protein known as E7 is believed to be required for tumor formation.
The researchers developed a vaccinia virus genetically altered to express E7 as a potential treatment. Using the genetically altered virus as a vaccine, they believed they could stimulate the immune system to attack and kill tumor cells.
In the study, half the mice treated with the vaccinia virus were tumor-free two months after innoculation.
"The findings in this paper provide an additional option for the enhancement of immune responses to E7 and a possible immunotherapeutic agent for cervical cancers," say the researchers.
(Reference: A. Lamikanra, Z.-K. Pan, S.N. Isaacs, T.-C. Wu, Y. Paterson. 2001. Regression of established human papillomavirus type 16 immortalized tumors in vivo by vaccinia viruses expressing different forms of HPV-16 E7 correlates with enhanced CD8+ t-cell responses that home to the tumor site. Journal of Virology, 75: 9654-9664.)