Cervical Cancer Drug Shows Promise

Susan Farley
Published Online: Thursday, September 1, 2005

An investigational vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease that has been linked to cervical cancer has produced a stronger immune response in adolescents in a late-stage trial. The trial of the drug Gardisil, by Merck and Co, included 1529 individuals between the ages of 10 and 15 and produced a better immune response, compared with young women aged 16 to 23. The vaccine was designed to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), a cause of cervical cancer. These phase 3 data support previous studies of the drug's use in young women that showed Gardisil can reduce the incidence of infections, which includes genital warts and cervical precancers. This is the first trial to examine the effects on people aged 10 to 15?what the company calls "a bridging study." Researchers determined their immune responses by measuring the level of anti-HPV antibodies in the blood. Eliav Barr, head of clinical research for HPV vaccines at Merck, remarked, "What it means is that both kids as well as adults over the entire age range, almost all respond to the vaccine."

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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