Human papillomavirus therapeutic vaccines in head and neck tumors

Gianna Badaracco, Aldo Venuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Head and neck cancer represents one of the most challenging diseases as the mortality remains high despite advances in early diagnosis and treatment. Human papillomavirus has been implicated in a third of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas and human papillomavirus type 16 is strongly associated with carcinomas arising from the oropharynx, the tonsil being the preferred infected site. Novel therapeutic approaches including immunotherapy are currently under investigation. Immune vaccines developed against human papillomavirus in the genital area are already available and could simultaneously protect other anatomical localizations; however, prophylactic vaccines are expected to be effective in reducing the incidence of tumors after many years and, therefore, there is an urgent need to improve therapeutic interventions, such as immunotherapy. To date, human papillomavirus therapeutic vaccines are either at the preclinical level or at early phase human trials for genital pathologies. Nevertheless, accumulating evidence from animal and clinical studies suggests that the enhancement of specific and innate immune responses is effective in clearance of the human papillomavirus infection, promoting a cautious optimism regarding the achievement of an efficacious immunotherapy. This article reviews what has been achieved and what remains to be done in the field for the development of future viral vaccines in head and neck tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-766
Number of pages14
JournalExpert Review of Anticancer Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Head and neck
  • HPV
  • Prophylactic vaccine
  • Therapeutic vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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