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J Gen Virol. 2012 Apr;93(Pt 4):681-91. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.039677-0. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

Genital human papillomavirus infections: current and prospective therapies.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


Infection with human papillomaviruses (HPVs) is very common and associated with benign and malignant epithelial proliferations of skin and internal squamous mucosae. A subset of the mucosal HPVs are oncogenic and associated with 5 % of all cancers in men and women. There are two licensed prophylactic vaccines, both target HPV 16 and 18, the two most pathogenic, oncogenic types and one, additionally, targets HPV 6 and 11 the cause of genital warts. The approach of deliberate immunization with oncogenic HPV E6 and/or E7 proteins and the generation of antigen-specific cytotoxic T-cells as an immunotherapy for HPV-associated cancer and their high-grade pre-cancers has been tested with a wide array of potential vaccine delivery systems in Phase I/II trials with varying success. Understanding local viral and tumour immune evasion strategies is a prerequisite for the rational design of therapeutic vaccines for HPV-associated infection and disease, progress in this is discussed. There are no antiviral drugs for the treatment of HPV infection and disease. Current therapies are not targeted antiviral therapies, but either attempt physical removal of the lesion or induce inflammation and a bystander immune response. There has been recent progress in the identification and characterization of molecular targets for small molecule antagonists of the HPV proteins E1, E2 and E6 or their interactions with their cellular targets. Lead compounds that could disrupt E1-E2 protein-protein interactions have been discovered as have inhibitors of E6-E6-AP-binding interactions. Some of these compounds showed nanomolar affinities and high specificities and demonstrate the feasibility of this approach for HPV infections. These studies are, however, at an early phase and it is unlikely that any specific anti-HPV chemotherapeutic will be in the clinic within the next 10-20 years.

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