Human papilloma virus (HPV)

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease and is one of the main causes of cervical cancer, killing more than 250,000 women every year worldwide.

HPV infections are common, affecting 70-80% of the female population throughout lifetime. Although spontaneous regression occurs in the majority of the cases, a significant number of women with persistent infections will develop cervical cancer. HPV infection is sexually transmitted with the highest prevalence in young women around 20 years old. The progression to cervical cancer takes 10-15 years, and Pap smear screening programs are recommended and found to be effective to identify women with cervical cell changes and follow them closely until regression or treatment if progression to precancerous lesions (dysplasia) is detected. HPV testing is increasingly being introduced in primary screening programs.

Cervical dysplasia are currently treated by surgical procedures with undesirable side effects
From screening programs in the developed part of the world, cervical Pap smears are obtained regularly to check for the presence of cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is mainly treated by local surgical procedures (conization) including loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), loop excision of transformation zone (LETZ), laser and cold knife conization in addition to cryosurgery. Unfortunately, conization also removes normal cervical tissue that may lead to bleeding, infection, stenosis, infertility and preterm delivery in later pregnancies which is associated with enormous burden on the family as well as costs to the society.

Tissue-preserving procedures like Cevira® (in deveelpment) would therefore meet a high medical need and be an attractive treatment of cervical dysplasia.

No treatment available for HPV
HPV tests are increasingly being included in public screening programs and used together with colposcopy and cervical cell sampling (cytology) to address persistent and aggressive HPV infections. No standard therapeutic treatment is available for treating HPV infections. Prophylactic HPV vaccines are available, but currently have only moderate coverage and will not significantly impact the number of patients with cervical dysplasia in the short-term.

Link to WHO Fact sheet Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs380/en/