Vaccine research has been a pillar of the Center for Immunization & Infection Research in Cancer (CIIRC) since the Center of Excellence’s inception. Studies have included vaccine trials to prevent HPV-related cancers and implementation research to increase vaccination rates. However, vaccine research in cancer is about more than prevention. Vaccines are also being developed for cancer treatment.
Collectively, CIIRC research addresses patient care and population health, and promises to lead to even greater reductions in the cancer burden in the near future.
Vaccines as Prevention:
Dr. Anna Giuliano, CIIRC Director, has been involved in HPV vaccine trials from proof of concept all the way through licensure, gender neutral recommendations for vaccination, and the new expanded age range for vaccination. Unfortunately, having a safe, effective vaccine available doesn’t ensure those who need it will receive it. That is why researchers like Dr. Susan Vadaparampil and Dr. Shannon Christy have examined factors influencing vaccine uptake and provider recommendations.
The availability of a vaccine which provides enduring protection against multiple types of high risk HPV, along with evidence-based methods for screening and treating pre-cancerous lesions, means that we can actually eliminate cervical cancers in our lifetime. In fact, some geographic regions may eliminate cervical cancer as early as 2030. CIIRC, in partnership with cancer centers, health organizations, and patient advocates, is committed to eliminating HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancers.
Vaccines as Treatment:
Cancer treatment vaccines are a type of immunotherapy. Only one cancer treatment has been approved for use in the U.S. (sipuleucel-T, used for treating metastatic prostate cancer), but many more are currently in trials. CIIRC faculty are working to develop cutting-edge vaccine strategies, leading novel research at the bench and vaccine clinical trials. Partnering with industry, Moffitt has launched several vaccine treatment trials targeting melanoma, breast cancer, and small cell lung cancer, with the hope of improving cancer treatment for all patients.