Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK


Health

Cervical cancer vaccine on test

Scientists hope a single jab will offer protection

An effective vaccine to prevent cervical cancer came a step closer on Wednesday as scientists unveiled plans to run trials in the UK, US, China and Australia.

The UK trials will begin in December, while the others are entering their second phase at the moment.


The BBC's Sue Nelson: "Scientists have been working on a better vaccine"
Scientists hope the vaccines will able to offer protection from the disease following a single jab in childhood.

It will offer immunity against the virus that causes 95% of all such cancers, the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).

However, specialists warn that it is early days yet and it could be up to 10 years before a vaccine is widely available.

Manchester trial

The UK study will be carried out at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester in December, when 30 volunteers will be vaccinated with the new drug.

Dr Daron Ferris, who is running a trial in the US, told the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme: "If the vaccine is successful then we would want to vaccinate the population and that would include vaccinating schoolchildren before individuals become sexually active.

"Since this is a sexually acquired infection, it would also make sense to vaccinate young boys."

The UK version of the vaccine was developed by 50 scientists from the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC) and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

UK vaccine 'cheaper'

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the CRC, said: "It has taken many years of work and we have had a few false starts but we believe that our vaccine is simpler and cheaper than the US version.


[ image: Professor Gordon McVie: Years of work]
Professor Gordon McVie: Years of work
"We are testing the vaccine for safety and will hopefully begin trials on 30 volunteers.

"If that is successful we will extend the trials, but we will need to get the backing of a pharmaceutical company to do that and at the moment the industry is understandably nervous about these vaccines."

He added: "It could be ten years before this vaccine hits the streets but we want to make sure it is safe and works.

"These are exciting developments and we will be closely watching what is happening in the US."

A successful vaccine would save 1,800 lives a year in the UK and could eliminate the need for a national smear test programme.

Although it has been proven to save lives, the UK's has been dogged by mistakes and controversy in recent years.

'Reason for optimism'

Dr Peter Sasieni, of the ICRF, said: "There is reason for optimism.

"This is something that people have been working on for many years and the fact that there are going to be trials is very good news.

"However, people should remember that there will probably still be many years before this can be used to prevent cervical cancer - and we can do away with the cervical cancer screening programme.

"Even if the vaccine becomes widely available in 10 years time it will be many years before women will be able to say that they no longer need to go for cervical cancer screening."

Tomorrow's World is broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday at 19.30 BST



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

05 May 99 | Health
Scientists predict cervical smear revolution

11 Mar 99 | Health
Cancer and Aids vaccines move closer

21 Feb 99 | Health
Cervical cancer vaccine on the way





Internet Links


NHS Cervical Screening Programme

Cancer Research Campaign

Imperial Cancer Research Fund

BBC Tomorrow's World


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99