College audience gets first glimpse of cervical cancer vaccine
27 July 2006
The first vial of a life-saving cervical cancer vaccine developed by Australian scientists was displayed at the University's Women's College by Professor Ian Frazer, the Australian of the Year.
Professor Frazer, director of the Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research at the University of Queensland, said the vaccine Gardasil had the potential to save a quarter of a million lives worldwide each year.
The vaccine is being manufactured in America and is expected to be available within weeks. It is said to be 100 per cent effective against cervical cancer, which kills 300,000 women each year around the world.
Speaking at a medical dinner at the Women's College, Professor Frazer made a strong plea for continued government research funding. "Medical research is a long-term investment in the health of the community and not something we can ignore," he said.
He spoke about the success of global vaccination programs that had brought the eradication of smallpox and the near-disappearance of polio. The eradication of polio would in itself pay for all the medical research there had ever been, he said.
He added that it was critical toensure thecervical cancer vaccine was available in the developing world where it was really needed. "We don't want it to become one more thing that divides the developed world from the undeveloped world," he said.
Professor Frazer was speaking at a medical dinner celebrating the 150th anniversary of the University's Faculty of Medicine, and raising money for a new college-based indigenous medical scholarship.
Contact: Richard North
Phone: 02 9351 3720