Former Australian of the Year Ian Frazer is close to starting clinical human trials on a new vaccine that could be used to treat head and neck cancers.
Admedus Immunotherapies is working with Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital on the breakthrough, which is based on the use of Professor Frazer’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Prof Frazer said HPV-associated cancers made up 20 per cent of all people diagnosed worldwide.
“Unfortunately, conventional treatments are not always successful,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“Harnessing the immune system is a new way to treat these virus-associated cancers.”
Admedus Immunotherapies chief executive Neil Finlayson said the new HPV vaccine had already successfully treated tumours in mice.
“Head and neck cancer is rising in incidence, and while chemo-radiation therapy has a good prognosis, in about 20 per cent of cases the cancer will metastasise,” he said in a statement.
“While there are only 25,000 cases of HPV-associated head and neck cancers globally each year, demonstrated clinical proof of concept of the vaccine’s effectiveness in treatment would mean the HPV vaccine could potentially be used to treat all HPV-associated cancers.”
The next step is to conduct a human clinical trial in Queensland, which is due to be completed by early 2019.
Admedus Immunotherapies received a $250,000 grant from the Queensland government to carry out the trial.
Queensland Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project had the potential to become “a billion-dollar market within three years of being approved”.
“This project, in which Advance Queensland is backing one of Queensland’s leading medical researchers, has enormous potential – from saving lives around the world to reinforcing Queensland’s reputation as a place to conduct and invest in research and clinical development,” she said in a statement.