A promising drug tested at University of Iowa Hospitals could show promise in preventing a kind of cancer. Dr Kevin Ault explains it could stave off H-P-V-sixteen, one strain of human papilloma virus. Ault says that strain of HPV virus is blamed for causing pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. Cervical cancer kills millions of women around the world, and as many as 20-percent of American women may be infected and not know it. Though big pharmaceutical companies and the National Cancer Institute are interested in the vaccine, Dr. Ault, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the U of Iowa, says the best vaccine would have more than one strain of H-P-V in it. He says about half the cases of cervical cancer are due to HPV-16, but that leaves the rest blamed on other strains, and still others cause simple abnormal Pap smears or cases of genital warts, so at U of I they’re just beginning research on four other types of the virus. In the U-S, the vaccine shows promise for complete protection from precancerous conditions caused by the virus, but Dr Ault says in other countries it could be a matter of life and death. In places like South America, Asia and Africa, cervical cancer’s the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. The University was one of sixteen clinics involved in the test, which is reported in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.
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