We kickstarted the conference with an update on potential vaccines for STIs by Prof Ian Frazer, the co-founder of the HPV vaccine. He gave a 'passing grade' on his STD vaccine score card for vaccines against Hepatitis B and HPV vaccinations but major innovation is needed for vaccines against treponema pallidum, neisseria gonorrhea, mycoplasma genitalium, trichomonas vaginalis and H. ducreyi. There was some sad news and exciting news.
The sad news was that there was a marked disparity between rollout of HPV vaccine programs and cervical cancer prevalence. So, the countries that have the highest rates of cervical cancer (mostly on the African continent and South Asia) have no HPV vaccine programs currently.
The exciting part of his talk was around his work on a vaccine against Herpes Simplex Virus. Whilst a previous paper in NEJM 2012 Jan 5:366 (1):34-43 showed some protection in HSV 1-2 uninfected women against HSV-1, the protection conferred was not significant enough to warrant further development of that form of herpes vaccine. However, Ian Frazer's group is now looking at a herpes vaccine using newer technologies (now in phase 2 trials) that may show greater promise. Watch this space!