LONDON (Reuters) - A single dose of GlaxoSmithKline’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could prevent the majority of cervical cancers, saving money and improving uptake of a potentially life-saving vaccination, scientists said on Wednesday.
GSK’s Cervarix, which targets two strains of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers, is currently given in two- or three-dose schedules, but one dose seems to offer a similar level of protection.
“Our findings question the number of HPV vaccine doses truly needed to protect the majority of women against cervical cancer, and suggest that a one-dose schedule should be further evaluated,” said Aimee Kreimer of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
“If one dose is sufficient, it could reduce vaccination and administration costs as well as improve uptake. This is especially important in less developed regions of the world where more than 80 percent of cervical cancer cases occur.”
Kreimer and colleagues published their findings in the journal Lancet Oncology after poring over data from two large clinical trials involving some 25,000 patients, some of whom only received one dose.
Margaret Stanley of the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the research, said the finding was striking and could be a “game changer” for the use of HPV vaccines worldwide.
But she and other experts cautioned that more research was needed in the form of clinical trials to specifically assess the efficacy of a single vaccine dose.
A GSK spokeswoman said the pooled research was welcome, though the company currently had no plans to file for a single dose licence.
Merck makes a rival HPV vaccine, Gardasil, that targets four strains of the virus.
Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Susan Thomas