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| 1 minute read

Celebrating a vaccine success

Vaccines are not new. Edward Jenner, although not the inventor of vaccination, certainly pioneered vaccination and developed the first smallpox vaccine in 1798, using the cowpox virus to vaccinate against smallpox. 

As a child I was vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella. In the 1980s vaccines against hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B, were also developed. 

I have previously reported on vaccines and their importance. Of course, much of the adult population has become reacquainted with receiving a vaccine, following the global COVID pandemic and the rollout of vaccines against COVID. Many of us also receive yearly influenza vaccines.

However, one vaccine I never received, but many of our children have, is a vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is spread by sexual activity and some strains cause genital warts or cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine has been offered to all UK schoolgirls since 2008 and since 2019 has also been offered to boys. It is hoped that the vaccine will eventually prevent up to 90% of cervical cancer cases and there has been a significant decline in HPV infections and young people with genital warts

The HPV vaccine is certainly a success and I read with interest that the University of Edinburgh is recognising one of its pioneers, Professor Ian Frazer, for his work in developing the vaccine, by awarding him the Cameron Prize for Therapeutics. Many congratulations to Professor Frazer (who is a Scot I may add) on this recognition.

As a patent attorney, who has filed a number of vaccine patent applications for clients, you may not be surprised that I wanted to take a look at the patent application protecting the vaccine. To my surprise I discovered that I had previously looked at the patent application over 20 years ago, when advising a client. What a small world.

The HPV vaccine was among the first of many healthcare success stories arising from genetic engineering, and it is extremely satisfying to see the impact it has had and will continue to have in the future.


biotech, life sciences, medical technologies