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HPV Virus History

HPV Virus History

One of the most widespread viruses in the world, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), has been around for generations. More than 100 different types of HPV are thought to exist. The majority of types are benign, but some can progress into diseases like genital warts or cancer. Cancer-causing HPV strains are categorized as “high risk.” Two HPV varieties, HPV16 and HPV18, account for the majority of HPV-related cancers out of the 14 high-risk HPV types currently recognized. Thankfully, the HPV vaccines provide a measure of defense against these dangerous strains. The question is, how did we get there? In this post, we will look at the history of HPV, from its discovery through the development of vaccines to prevent it. We’ll also examine how widespread HPV is globally.


A Gift from the Neanderthals

Given that comprehending papillomavirus evolution ought to offer significant biological insights and identify processes underlying HPV-induced cervical cancer, The scientists utilized “molecular clock models” to determine when HPV16, the most common and fatal strain of the human virus, split from other variants. Additionally, they isolated papillomaviruses (PV) in nonhuman primates to investigate the diversity and evolution of the virus. The researchers discovered that niche adaptation of viruses to host ecosystems was the first stage of the evolution of oncogenic HPVs after studying tissue from primate PV hosts. According to the study’s findings, the virus that causes cervical cancer has evolved in hominins for over 500,000 years. A new study finds that the human papillomavirus (HPV) has adapted within our species and that the frequency of a sub-strain of HPV16 in Asia shows that Neanderthals transferred the virus to modern non-African humans through interbreeding as Neanderthals travelled eastward about 80,000 years ago.


The Discovery of the HPV Virus

It’s specifically said that HPV was discovered in 1956 by a group of scientists, but it basically was in 1976 when Zur Hausen, a German virologist, published a paper in which he suggested that HPV could generally be a cause of cervical cancer. His hypothesis essentially was controversial at the time, but the medical community later accepted it and, for all intents and purposes, is now widely accepted as fact. In fact, It was in the early 1980s when the breakthrough came in, and Dr. zur Hausen and his team found novel HPV- DNA in cervical cancer biopsies, thus discovering the tumorigenic virus type HPV 16 and 18 in 1984. In recognition of his discovery that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the root cause of cervical cancer, he was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is still investigating the role of infectious organisms in cancer development.


More Facts About HPV

After German virologist Harald zur Hausen discovered the HPV strains in cervical cancer tumours and established HPV as a possible cause of cervical cancer, it was discovered that HPV also causes anal, vulval, and oral malignancies. Then, in 1986, Zur Hausen offered the HPV vaccination as a potential cancer prevention strategy, but pharmaceutical firms rejected the proposal because they thought the vaccine would not be financially successful. The HPV vaccine would not be available for almost two decades.


Introducing HPV Vaccine

Professors Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou of the University of Queensland in Australia were the ones who first created the HPV vaccine. Frazer and Zhou started synthesizing HPV-like particles in 1990, which would subsequently be used to create the vaccine. These tiny particles, also known as “virus-like particles” (VLPs), include proteins from the HPV virus’s outer layer. VLPs don’t contain any virus DNA, either live or dead, so they can’t infect people with HPV or lead to cancer that is associated with HPV. Injecting these VLPs causes the body to produce the antibodies necessary to fight them and eliminate them from the body. Because the VLP is so similar to the actual virus, these antibodies will fight and eliminate HPV if it enters the body. Due to the VLPs’ high levels of antibody generation, this vaccination approach is quite successful.


HPV Vaccine Progress

The initial presentation of Frazer and Zhou’s findings to the scientific community took place in 1991. The vaccine, known as Gardasil, underwent its initial human trials after seven years of development and testing. Four high-risk HPV strains (HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18), which account for more than 70% of instances of cervical cancer, were avoided by this vaccine. Following comprehensive clinical trials that revealed the vaccination offered nearly 100% protection against HPV 16 and 18, Australia and the USA approved its use in 2006, and 80 other nations followed suit by the end of the year. Since then, two further vaccinations have been authorized: a nonavalent vaccine named Gardasil 9 that was approved in 2014 to protect against nine HPV types (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58) and a bivalent vaccine called Cervarix that was authorized in 2007 to prevent two HPV types (HPV16 and 18). Vaccinations against HPV are now routinely administered in 100 nations throughout the world as of October 2019.


The HPV Epidemic

The most prevalent sexually transmitted infection is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), as was already mentioned. Recently, there has been an increase in the prevalence of this infection. According to prevalence data, as many as 24 million American people, or 1 in 5, may have HPV infection. It is estimated that 6 million new HPV infections occur annually in the United States alone. Unfortunately, little is known about the virus and its effects in the general populace. It is well known that HPV is the root cause of more than 90% of anogenital wart cases. The cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx have all been linked to HPV. Cervical cancer is unavoidably caused by the virus. In nearly all cases of cervical cancer, HPV DNA is found. In recent years, significant progress has been made in the fight against this illness and the diseases that follow. The incidence of HPV infection in women with normal cytology is approximately 11–12% worldwide, with sub-Saharan Africa having the greatest frequency (24%) followed by Eastern Europe (21%) and Latin America (16%). The prevalence of HPV is highest in women under the age of 25, dropping as people get older in various populations—some of which have a secondary peak in peri- or early menopausal women.


How to Prevent?

A potent approach for the primary prevention of cervical cancer and other HPV-related disorders has been made available by prophylactic HPV vaccination. There are currently three HPV vaccinations on the market: the quadrivalent (against HPVs 6/11/16/18), the 9-valent vaccine (against HPVs 6/11/16/18/31/33/45/52/58), and the bivalent (against HPVs 16/18). In some nations, vaccinations are accessible and authorized. However, many people in developing nations, where 80% of cervical cancer cases are found, cannot afford the vaccination’s price. But with OBP, it may be possible for HPV vaccines to be more reasonably priced in these nations by creating biosimilar versions of some of the most well-known and well-liked vaccinations available worldwide, like Cervarix, which protects against HPV.



In conclusion, the history of the HPV virus has been lengthy and complex, with a wealth of new information and advances in our understanding of the virus. HPV has greatly impacted human health, from its initial discovery in the late 19th century to its current position as the most prevalent sexually transmitted illness. Although the virus is common, scientists have made enormous achievements in creating vaccines and therapies to help stop its spread and the problems it brings with it. As research and understanding of HPV advance, so will management techniques for the virus and its associated risks.

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