UNM Researcher Continues Cancer Vaccine Work

March 22, 2007

Contact: Luke Frank, Media Relations Manager, 505/272-3679; (c) 505/907-9525


Subjects Ages 11-18 Needed for Combined HPV Vaccine Study

ALBUQUERQUE, NM UNM cancer researcher Cosette Wheeler, Ph.D., continues her work with development of vaccines that are hoped to reduce the numbers of cases of cervical cancer worldwide this time by giving a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine with two required, FDA-approved vaccines likely to be administered at the same time as HPV vaccines in young girls: Tetanus, diphtheria and perttusis (Tdap) vaccine; and/or a meningococcal (Menectra®) vaccine. HPVs are the cause of virtually all cervical cancer worldwide.

Wheeler, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at UNM's Health Sciences Center, was instrumental in her 10 years of clinical testing to develop both Merck's Gardasil® HPV vaccine and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix® HPV vaccine. Gardasil® was approved last summer by the FDA, and it is expected that Cervarix® will be submitted for approval soon. She, along with UNM's Dr. Alberta Kong from the Department of Pediatrics, is directing a new study evaluating administration of combinations of vaccines.

"Currently, three out of every four sexually active women get an HPV infection at some point in their lives," Wheeler says. "This study is an important and logical next step in making more acceptable and feasible the implementation of HPV vaccines.

"In unexposed girls, HPV vaccines can prevent the very common infections with human papillomaviruses, or HPVs," she adds. "Giving more than one vaccine at a single clinic visit improves the ability to deliver vaccines, especially because the HPV vaccines are given in three separate shots.

"We already give multiple vaccines at the same time to infants for the same reason. We need parents and their daughters who are eligible and interested to participate and enable this important study. Eligibility must be determined, and all minors must have parental consent to participate."

Wheeler and colleagues are looking for young women in the Albuquerque area ages 11-18 years who are in good health and have not been vaccinated previously against HPV. Wheeler's work is part of a larger clinical research study comprised of nearly 1,000 volunteers across the country. "By joining this clinical research study, volunteers can help contribute to additional information needed for bringing HPV vaccines into our populations and particularly to New Mexico given recent HPV vaccine legislation," she offers.

For more information on the study or HPV, call 505/277-HOPE (4673) or e-mailcnicholson@salud.unm.edu.

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