“It has the potential to really improve cancer treatment and benefit cancer patients,” says the students’ adviser, Sujata Bhatia, assistant director for undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “The ChemoPatch will make treatment more cost-effective, less error-prone, and more convenient for cancer patients. This will ultimately enable multidrug, targeted cancer treatment regimens and improve patient compliance.” Chemotherapy at home: Undergraduates’ drug-delivery patch earns second place in the 2013 Collegiate Inventors Competition
Still, this is a virus that mostly targets women. 22,000 women get cervical cancer in the USA each year. Around the world, the toll is even worse. According to the World Health Organization, HPV linked cervical cancer afflicts 529,000 women. 275,000 women die each year from cervical cancer. More than 85% of these deaths are in the developing world.
HPV can be effectively controlled through a simple vaccine. Here in the United States, though, social conservatives have criticized the vaccine, suggesting that giving the vaccine to adolescent girls promotes promiscuity. Congresswoman Michelle Bachman even suggested that the vaccine is linked to mental retardation. In 2010, only about 30% of American girls aged 13 to 17 received all three recommended doses.
In the developing world, access to the vaccine has been virtually nil in part because of the high cost of the vaccine. That’s about to change. Earlier this year, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, a Gates Foundation backed public-private partnership negotiated a huge discount for the HPV vaccine in Africa and elsewhere. They’ve dropped the price to about $4.50/dose (compared to over $100/dose in the United States) and last month the GAVI-backed HPV Vaccine rollouts launched in some Sub Saharan African countries. GAVI estimates that over 30 million girls in more than 40 countries will be immunized by 2020. How Michael Douglas’ Cancer Revelation Could Change the World