STAT+: An mRNA vaccine for cancers associated with HPV shows promise in mice

The HPV vaccine is a slam dunk in preventing the vast majority of cancers related to the infection — namely tumors of the head and neck, anus, penis, vagina, and cervix. But that’s only for people who got shots early enough to prevent HPV infection. Everyone else must hope for other vaccines that scientists are developing to treat existing HPV-associated cancer. A new study on that front offers some promising, if early, results in mice.

Researchers tested a trio of mRNA vaccines, built with some of the same technology that created the Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and BioNTech. The three vaccines were designed to rally the immune system to attack cancer cells originally created from an HPV infection. The experiment, published Friday in Science Translational Medicine, showed that a single injection of any one of the three mRNA vaccines was able to clear tumors from mice and keep the vast majority of the mice cancer-free until the end of the trial.

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