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The strongest type of a cancer vaccine that is still being developed, commonly known as the “gold standard”, has worked as well as non-vaccinated “boosters” for cervical cancer, a new study suggests.
It suggests only one in every 50 of the six million women immunised with the vaccine may develop the cancer as a result of the jab.
Scientists also say the vaccine is unlikely to cause problems for other cancers.
It has been hailed as a major breakthrough and is now being tried in several other types of cancer.
The HPV vaccine, sold under the brand name Gardasil, can protect against infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) – the main cause of most cervical cancers.
HPV vaccines are used for routine vaccination in all countries worldwide except in Japan, where the country’s Health Ministry has rejected the vaccines.
The vaccine is also licensed for use in boys, although a very small percentage have been vaccinated.
First clinical trials of a booster, called PreviVac, have shown it could also give similar protection.
New UK trials of the vaccine were published on Monday, and the New England Journal of Medicine reports in its latest edition how researchers were able to demonstrate that the vaccine remained highly effective, and had no side effects, when it was given to men and women of both sexes.
The publication of these new studies has caused fears that men who have already received the “surprise” injection, in the form of a vaccine filler, will have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer as a result of their new vaccination.
The scientists estimate that up to 1 in 100 of this group will now be infected with HPV before death or will develop the disease within five years of them being vaccinated.
There has been debate about why these people would have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer when the vaccine is so effective at protecting them from the disease.
According to the authors of the new study, there is a weakness in how the vaccine might actually be weakened as a result of being injected into muscle.
An adult with a weakened immune system, such as an HIV-positive man who has been dosed with Gardasil to prevent him contracting the disease, would normally have more of a response, it is argued.
Even so, the authors say that in these 50 who will be “impacted” by the vaccine it is unlikely to cause damage.