June 9, 2006

Contact: Luke Frank, Senior Public Affairs Representative 272-3679; cell 907-9525

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, NM UNM's Cancer Research & Treatment Center (CRTC) played a prominent role in the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, approved by the FDA yesterday.

Cosette Wheeler, Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at UNM's School of Medicine and principal research at the CRTC, has been working with colleagues from around the world since 1996 to develop and test vaccines to prevent this devastating disease.

Gardasil works by targeting the sexually transmitted Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is believed to be responsible for about 70 percent of all tumors that occur in the cervix.

"At last, we have the potential to have a significant impact on eradicating cervical cancer," Wheeler asserts. "We've been involved in this research from the start and were the lead investigative site for the vaccine study."

Wheeler, who joined UNM's Health Sciences Center in 1988, was instrumental in discovering HPV's role in cervical cancer and has been at the forefront of this vaccine research, observing and accommodating its many twists and turns throughout the process.

For more information on the Cervical Cancer Vaccine or UNM Cancer Research and Treatment Center, call 272-3679.