Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou
Vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer
The vaccine is now being used in 120 countries, and the World Health Organisation recommends it as standard for all young women
Immunologists and cancer researchers, breaking the link between HPV and cancer
The vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) has revolutionised preventative care for cervical cancer. The vaccine offers full protection from the two HPV strands responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers, hence successfully breaking this link. While working on the vaccine at the University of Queensland, Australian Immunologist Ian Frazer suffered a setback when the live virus proved impossible to grow in a laboratory. This problem was solved by Cambridge immunologist Jian Zhou, who successfully cloned the virus’ surface proteins onto a different virus to act as a template. Sadly, Zhou died in 1999 from hepatitis contracted in his native China, but Frazer continued their work and brought the vaccine to market under the name Gardasil. Since the launch in 2006, the vaccine is now being used in 120 countries, and the World Health Organisation recommends it as standard for all young women. The University of Queensland has waived royalties on vaccine sales in 72 developing countries, where most deaths from cervical cancer occur due to lack of preventive diagnostics.