In the largest grant ever to a Cancer Control and Prevention researcher at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health have awarded $10 million to Anna Giuliano, Ph.D., to help determine men’s roles in spreading the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes deadly cervical cancer in women.
The grant is the largest of its kind in the world. Up to this point in the world of cancer research, little has been done to study men’s roles in spreading the sexually transmitted organism linked to cervical cancer in women.
The men will be followed every six months for four years. They need not have the HPV virus, but they must be willing to visit a clinic at Moffitt twice a year for the four-year study duration.
Giuliano – who is Moffitt’s Program Leader for Risk Assessment, Detection and Intervention – is recruiting 3,000 healthy men, age 18-44, at one site in the United States, one in Mexico and one in Brazil.
The work could help determine whether a vaccine for males should be employed in the arsenal against cervical cancer. The study is of great interest in Latin America, where rates are higher than in the United States.
Hispanic women in the United States have significantly elevated rates compared to other women. Why study men in regard to a cancer that hits women?
“We need to know what the rates of new infections are, how long they last, whether they respond to antibodies,” she explains.
“We are only a year or two away from having a vaccine for women licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We don’t know if we need to vaccinate men.”
Latin American countries suffer “the highest rates of invasive cervical cancer in the world,” she says. “And that’s where many of our new immigrant populations in Florida are coming from.”
Vaccine research is exciting to scientists because preliminary data indicate that it is a means to prevent cancer of the cervix.
In developing countries this would be lifesaving, as few women have access to the Pap smear, an effective early screening method that has significantly reduced the rate of cervical cancer in the United States in the past 50 years.
“We are getting closer to eradicating cervical cancer through prevention,” Giuliano says.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
The Mexican study site is Cuernaraca; the Brazilian is São Paulo.
Source: H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center