Genital warts in men have for the first time been successfully treated using an expensive vaccine aimed at preventing cervical cancer in women, according to research.
The results are expected to act as an incentive for manufacturer Merck to begin marketing the vaccine to boys, experts say.
Anna Giuliano, a researcher who worked on the Merck-funded study and an epidemiologist at the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Centre in Tampa, Florida, said: “This opens the door to a wonderful opportunity to prevent illness.”
The focus was Merck’s vaccine, Gardasil, which is given in three doses over six months and costs about £235.
The vaccine targets the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) believed to be responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases, and two other types that cause most genital warts. HPV is spread through sex.
Despite men and boys being able to spread the virus, Gardasil has not been licensed for them because there was no evidence it prevented disease in men.
Research has now shown the vaccine is 90% effective in preventing genital warts, with only 15 cases of persistent infection in a vaccinated group of males, compared with 101 cases in a group that was given a fake vaccine.
Copyright Press Association 2008