First Ever Skin Cancer Vaccine Trials to Start in Australia Early Next Year

by Gopalan on Nov 16 2008 11:34 AM

First ever skin cancer vaccine trials on humans are to start in Australia early next year.

Professor Ian Frazer, the man behind the cervical cancer vaccine, is also the moving spirit behind the latest vaccine attempt too. He is due to outline his skin cancer breakthrough at the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress in Brisbane tomorrow.

The former Australian of the Year will tell the conference the skin cancer vaccine has been successful in animal testing and it could be available to the public within five to 10 years.

Prof Frazer envisages the vaccine could be given to millions of children between the ages of 10 and 12.

"If we can get encouraging results we will try and push it on as fast as we can," Prof Frazer told News Limited.

"It's really a given that we try to focus on health problems that are significant ones."

But Cancer Australia CEO David Currow has warned that the vaccine will not prevent all skin cancers.

Mr Currow says it could be a revolutionary discovery, but people will still need to be careful.

"As we've seen with cervical cancer, although it may deal with 70 per cent of cancers of the cervix, the vaccine doesn't deal with the other 30 per cent," he said.

"And so it is with a vaccine related to skin cancer. The message is still that one of the most powerful things that we can do is reduce the risk by reducing our exposure to sunlight."

He says the vaccine could prevent some of the 400,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Australia every year, but there is no guarantee.

"The future is sometime off here and even if we get this vaccine in place in the next decade it's absolutely imperative that in the meantime we continue to take a very active stance in managing the risk factors that each of us have control over," he said.

Lisa Naumann from the Cancer Council says it is fantastic news, ABC Online reported.

"This sort of research is a really exciting opportunity for us to see what we can do to combat this really awful disease," she said.

"The Cancer Council is certainly really excited to see what becomes of this vaccine."