HPV Vaccine enhanced with an adjuvant

According to an article for Medical News Today, “The immune response against the virus that causes cervical cancer is stronger and sustained following vaccination with GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) candidate HPV vaccine formulated with the innovative AS04 adjuvant compared to using the same vaccine formulated with a conventional aluminium salt adjuvant.”

Adjuvants are substances, which when used in combination with antigens in vaccines, enhance the immune response. The use of adjuvants in vaccines is very common. Vaccines have conventionally been formulated with aluminium salt as the adjuvant.

So, what does this really mean? In layman’s terms, it means that this particular HPV vaccine has been enhanced, made stronger, by adding a special AS04 adjuvant to it compared to the aluminum salt additive.

Dr. Philippe Monteyne, Head of Global Vaccine Development of GSK Biologicals, said: “For a HPV vaccine to be effective, it must induce a strong immune response and provide protection that lasts. These new data demonstrate a genuine immunological benefit with the AS04 adjuvant by contributing to a strong and sustained vaccine-induced immune response of high quality.”

In these studies, GSK’s HPV vaccine, formulated with the innovative AS04 adjuvant, and the same vaccine formulated with a conventional aluminium salt adjuvant were compared to assess the quality of the immune response generated after vaccination.

In human studies, subjects received a three-dose course (at 0, 1 and 6 months) of GSK’s HPV vaccine formulated with either the innovative AS04 adjuvant or a conventional aluminium salt adjuvant. Following vaccination, antibody levels and immune memory B-cells were measured.

Results in human subjects showed that enhanced antibody levels induced by the AS04 adjuvanted HPV vaccine were 1.5 and 2.1 times higher for HPV 16 and HPV 18 respectively, at 3.5 years post-vaccination, compared to those induced following vaccination with the same vaccine formulated with a conventional aluminium salt adjuvant.

The studies also demonstrated the ability of the AS04 adjuvanted vaccine to increase the number of immune memory B-cells. One month following completion of a three-dose course of GSK’s HPV vaccine formulated with the innovative AS04 adjuvant, observed numbers of memory B-cells were 2 and 3.6 times higher for HPV 18 and HPV 16 respectively than those observed following vaccination with the same vaccine formulated with a conventional aluminium salt adjuvant. Recent observations have indicated that immune memory B-cells play a key role in the persistence of antibody levels following vaccination.

The CDC states that, “Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it.  HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). These are all viruses that can be passed on during sex, but they cause different symptoms and health problems.”

GSK’s HPV vaccine has been developed to prevent infection and precancerous lesions caused by the two most common HPV types associated with cervical cancer, HPV 16 and 18. In addition, GSK’s candidate HPV vaccine has shown protection against incident infection with the third and fourth most common HPV types associated with cervical cancer, HPV 45 and 31. 2,3 HPV types 16, 18, 45 and 31 are collectively responsible for approximately 80 per cent of cervical cancers globally. 

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