Human papillomaviruses (HPV) infect epithelial cells in the skin and mucosal tissue and can cause tumor-like growth. Some of these viruses also develop malignant tumors, especially cervical cancer in women, which kills around 4,000 women each year.

 A quadruple HPV vaccine has been available since 2006 and it protects against the most dangerous oncogenic HPV strains that cause cervical cancer and other types of cancer in the genital and throat area, but which also cause genital warts. Yet the current human papillomavirus vaccines have had indifferent uptake in the U.S. Critics say that everyone has or will have the HPV virus, so the public is not mobilized the same way they are for something like polio, and the existing vaccines have not covered enough sub-types of the virus to make the vaccine seem as valuable as measles and mumps.

A new vaccine closes that gap, according to the findings of a randomized, controlled, international study involving a new, 9-component vaccine against HPV used on more than 14,000 young women aged between ages 16 and 26. Though over 100 HPV sub-types have now been identified, 9 sub-types are responsible for 85 percent of pre-cancerous cells of the cervix. The new vaccine means that these can largely be prevented.

It is 20 percent more effective against cervical cancer than the previous 4-component vaccine, up to 30 percent more effective against the early stages of cervical cancer and up to five to 15 percent more effective against other types of cancer, such as vaginal or anal carcinoma. All told it has the potential to prevent 90 per cent of all of the conditions triggered by the human papillomavirus.

"A 9-Valent HPV Vaccine against Infection and Intraepithelial Neoplasia in Women." E. A. Joura, A. Giuliano, O. Iversen, C. Bouchard, C. Mao, J. Mehlsen, E. Moreira, Jr., Y. Ngan, L. Petersen, E. Lazcano-Ponce, P. Pitisuttithum, J. Restrepo, G. Stuart, L. Woelber, Y. Yang, J. Cuzick, S. Garland, W. Huh, S. Kjaer, O. Bautista, I. Chan, J. Chen, R. Gesser, E. Moeller, M. Ritter, S. Vuocolo, and A. Luxembourg. N Engl J Med 2015;372:711-23. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1405044.