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September 12, 2017

Preventing Cancer and Other Diseases Caused by Human Papillomavirus Infection: 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Research Award

Author Affiliations
  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2017;318(10):901-902. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11706

The 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award has been presented to Douglas Lowy and John Schiller for development of the virus-like particle technology that was used to create the human papillomavirus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases.

The sexually transmitted nature of cervical cancer was recognized by Rigoni-Stern in the 19th century, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection was known from the early 20th century to cause genital and nongenital warts. However, the medical importance of these viruses was not clearly established until the 1980s with the breakthrough discovery by zur Hausen1 and colleagues that HPV type 16 (HPV-16) or HPV type 18 (HPV-18), which were distinct from the HPV types causing genital warts, was found in approximately 70% of cervical cancers, the third most common cancer among women worldwide.

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