Recent advances in understanding and preventing human papillomavirus-related disease
Hellner K., Dorrell L.
High-risk human papillomaviruses (hrHPV) are responsible for anogenital and oropharyngeal cancers, which together account for at least 5% of cancers worldwide. Industrialised nations have benefitted from highly effective screening for the prevention of cervical cancer in recent decades, yet this vital intervention remains inaccessible to millions of women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), who bear the greatest burden of HPV disease. While there is an urgent need to increase investment in basic health infrastructure and rollout of prophylactic vaccination, there are now unprecedented opportunities to exploit recent scientific and technological advances in screening and treatment of pre-invasive hrHPV lesions and to adapt them for delivery at scale in resource-limited settings. In addition, non-surgical approaches to the treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and other hrHPV lesions are showing encouraging results in clinical trials of therapeutic vaccines and antiviral agents. Finally, the use of next-generation sequencing to characterise the vaginal microbial environment is beginning to shed light on host factors that may influence the natural history of HPV infections. In this article, we focus on recent advances in these areas and discuss their potential for impact on HPV disease.