Scientists have identified an important way in which the human papilloma virus (HPV) triggers cervical and mouth cancer.
HPV infection is known to increase the risk of developing cancers of the cervix and mouth with the two high-risk forms of the virus accounting for approximately 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases.
University of Manchester scientists claimed that, if the current vaccines prove effective at preventing oral HPV infection, their findings provide additional justification for the current programme of vaccinating young girls and may also lend support to extending the programme to young boys too.
"Our study has shown that a protein in cells called Cdc42, which is already known to be implicated in a number of cancers as well as in tumor spread, is inappropriately activated by the human papilloma virus," said Ian Hampson, who with Lynne Hampson headed the research.
"If the vaccination programme is shown to reduce the incidence of oral HPV infection then this study would appear to support its continued use as a way to prevent HPV-related mouth cancer and perhaps consideration should be given to extending the programme to boys," they added.
The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer.