Alumni News Articles

New developments in Professor Ian Frazer's immunology research

23 March 2016

New developments in Professor Ian Frazer's immunology research

Immunologist and 2006 Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer, is in testing for a vaccine that will treat those already infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), an extremely common, often sexually-transmitted, virus that can cause cervical cancer if left untreated.

Professor Frazer was awarded Australian of the Year in 2006 for his research that led to the creation of the Gardasil vaccine, which grants immunity to around 75 per cent of HPV strains. This new vaccine-in-testing could treat the one in four adults who have the virus before it could lead to cervical cancer.

He has been working with healthcare group Admedus Ltd, to create the DNA vaccine which has shown very encouraging results in animal trials.

On how the vaccine would work Frazer said “It’s quite simple really, most viruses kill the cells they infect, which is a nasty danger signal for the body so it turns on its defences pretty quickly to kill it and then kill the cells making more of the virus. This process saves us from flu and a whole range of different infections.

“Human papillomavirus doesn't kill the cells it infects - rather it makes them grow more. There's no danger signal to [the] body - all the body sees is tissue repairing itself.”

The vaccination would alert the body of the infected cells so it can set to destroying them. This research could potentially be applied to a wider range of viruses, infections and cancers in the future and is a step closer to eliminating cervical cancer.

For further information please contact Admedus Australia Medical Research & Development here.

2006 Australian of the Year

Professor Ian Frazer

Clinical Immunologist and Inventor of the Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Ian Frazer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and trained as a physician and clinical immunologist at Edinburgh University. He immigrated to Melbourne in 1980 to pursue further studies in viral immunology...

View Honour Roll profile for Ian Frazer