Persistent infection by high risk genotypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of cervical cancer, which remains one of the most common cancers among women worldwide. In addition, there is a growing appreciation that high risk HPVs are associated with a number of other cancers including anogenital cancers as well as a subset of head and neck cancers. Recently, prophylactic HPV vaccines targeting the two most prevalent high risk HPVs (HPV16 and HPV18) have been deployed in large-scale vaccination campaigns. However, the extent to which these prophylactic vaccines confer protection against other high risk HPV genotypes is largely unknown and prophylactic vaccines have been shown to be ineffective against pre-existing infection. Thus there continues to be an urgent need for effective therapeutic vaccines against HPV. The E7 protein of HPV16 has been widely studied as a target for therapeutic vaccines in HPV-associated cancer settings because HPV16 is the most prevalent of the high risk HPV genotypes. However, HPV16 accounts for only about 50% of cervical cancers and there are at least 15 other high risk HPVs that are known to be oncogenic. We have developed a novel, broad-spectrum, therapeutic vaccine (Pentarix) directed at the E7 proteins from five of the most prevalent high-risk genotypes of HPV worldwide (HPV16, 18, 31, 45 and 52) that together account for more than 80% of all HPV-associated cancers. Pentarix is a recombinant protein-based vaccine that elicits strong, multi-genotype specific CD8 T cell immunity when administered to mice in combination with adjuvants comprised of agonists of the TLR3 or TLR9 family of innate immune receptors. Furthermore, large, established E7-expressing TC-1 tumors undergo rapid and complete regression after therapeutic vaccination of mice with Pentarix. Together, these data suggest that Pentarix may be of clinical value for patients with E7-positive, HPV-associated precancerous lesions or malignant disease.
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