Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been associated with the cause of several cancer types, including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers. There has been great success in preventing HPV infections with the development of prophylactic HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. However, these vaccines have only been shown to prevent HPV infection and not treat those already infected with HPV. These vaccines elicit antibody responses to late HPV genes, and thus would not be effective in treating established tumors. To date, no therapeutic HPV vaccine has been approved by the FDA, and there is an unmet need for therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers.
One approach in the development of HPV therapeutic vaccines is the use of agonist epitopes that would elicit enhanced cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses capable of lysing human tumor cells expressing native HPV epitopes. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have identified three agonist epitopes that target early HPV genes responsible for maintaining the malignant phenotype. Moreover, these agonist epitopes generate CTLs capable of lysing carcinoma cells expressing the native HPV epitope.
The NCI, Center for Cancer Research, is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in licensing and/or collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize the HPV agonist epitopes for the development of a therapeutic vaccine.