Australians may be looking at another Nobel Prize. Professor Ian Frazer and his team have developed the world's first cancer vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
The scientists used genetic engineering to produce in sufficient quantities fragments of the HPV virus. The dead fragments, called "virus-like particles", are put into the vaccine and trick the immune system into thinking the virus itself is present. The body would respond by making antibodies that would then protect the patient if the real virus later appeared.
The vaccine is named Gardasil and is designed to be given in three doses over six months, which should provide immunity for at least 10 years. It would be given to women before becoming sexually active, but it could still bring benefits for older women.
Men could also benefit from the vaccine as it protects against two other types of HPV responsible for genital warts.
Final trials on efficiency of the vaccine reported 100% success rate. This means that Gardasil could be on sale in Australia by the end of next year.