Immunotherapy for Cervical Cancer
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What Makes Immunotherapy a Promising Treatment for Cervical Cancer?

Reviewed By: W. Martin Kast, Ph.D.
USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center Los Angeles, CA

As the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer among women worldwide, cervical cancer is one of the major cancer types for which new immunotherapies are being developed and tested in clinical trials. Human papillomavirus virus (HPV) infection is one of the major causes of cervical cancer and is believed to cause almost all cases. This prevalent virus is also linked to other anal, genital, and head and neck cancers.

There is an imperative need for new and advanced immunotherapy treatments for cervical cancer, with roughly 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer (4,120 deaths) predicted for 2016 in the U.S. alone. Though mortality rates in the US have decreased due to effective use of Pap testing and DNA testing, people already infected with HPV or those who have already been diagnosed with cervical cancer do not benefit from the FDA-approved HPV vaccine Gardasil. Symptoms of this disease often go undetected until the cancer becomes invasive. For this reason, immunotherapy represents a unique opportunity for treating cervical cancer.

Thankfully, the targeted antibody bevacizumab has been approved for cervical cancer patients, and numerous other immunotherapy approaches have seen promising results in early-stage clinical trials, including T cell immune checkpoint inhibitors, therapeutic vaccines, and adoptive cell therapy/transfer.

CRI's Impact on Cervical Cancer

At CRI, we are dedicated to leading the field in cervical cancer immunotherapy by providing grants, fellowships, and funding to cervical cancer research and clinical trials. In fact, the Cancer Research Institute has awarded more than $12 million dollars to support cervical cancer and human papillomavirus research, since 1983.

This dedication to the advancing the field of cervical cancer immunotherapy has lead to several breakthroughs in treatment technology, including paving the way for more effective prevention methods. In 1999, CRI awarded the first of numerous grants to scientists working on VLP-based papillomavirus vaccines—crucial to the development of the first preventative cervical cancer vaccine. This vaccine, called Gardasil, got FDA approval in 2006, while a newer version of the vaccine, Gardasil-9®, was approved by the FDA in 2014. This revolutionary vaccine protects women against nine different types of HPV that ultimately lead to approximately 90% of all cases of cervical cancer across the globe.

Together with our supportive community of donors, we work tirelessly to bring effective, immune-based cancer treatments to all people affected by cervical cancer. Let's continue to advance the technology of preventative vaccines and immunotherapy treatments for cervical cancer.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.