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New hope for skin-cancer vaccine


A vaccine for skin cancer may be available in five year thanks to the University of Queensland scientist who developed the Gardasil cervical cancer treatment.

Professor Ian Frazer has said trials on humans may begin next year, and that a vaccine for children aged 10 to 12 might be available in five to 10 years.

It would protect against squamous cell carcinoma – not the more deadly melanomas – and will target papillomavirus, a common infection that can turn abnormal cells cancerous.

Professor Frazer said: “What we’ve learnt is that the skin has natural defences that switch off killer T cells. We’ve found ways to overcome these blocks and let the immune system work.

“We now want to test vaccines in clinical trials, to find out whether they could be used to treat people.”

Professor Ian Olver of the Australian Cancer Council, said that even if the vaccine were to work in humans, people would still have to stay out of the sun.

He said: “The traditional prevention messages of staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, covering up and using sun screen still apply. This would be an extra layer of protection.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

Professor Ian Frazer

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