Agonist Epitopes for the Development of a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Therapeutic Vaccine

Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been associated with the cause of several cancer types, including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers. There has been great success in preventing HPV infections with the development of prophylactic HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. However, these vaccines have only been shown to prevent HPV infection and not treat those already infected with HPV. These vaccines elicit antibody responses to late HPV genes, and thus would not be effective in treating established tumors. To date, no therapeutic HPV vaccine has been approved by the FDA, and there is an unmet need for therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers. 

One approach in the development of HPV therapeutic vaccines is the use of agonist epitopes that would elicit enhanced cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses capable of lysing human tumor cells expressing native HPV epitopes. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have identified three agonist epitopes that target early HPV genes responsible for maintaining the malignant phenotype. Moreover, these agonist epitopes generate CTLs capable of lysing carcinoma cells expressing the native HPV epitope. 

The NCI, Center for Cancer Research, is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in licensing and/or collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize the HPV agonist epitopes for the development of a therapeutic vaccine.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Development of HPV therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers 
  • For cancer immunotherapy targeting HPV-mediated cancers or use as a combination therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors, other immune modulators and/or chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other modes of therapy such as the use of small molecule-targeted therapeutics
  • Gardasil and Cervarix are prophylactic HPV vaccines and are not used to treat HPV-infected individuals. This technology could be used to develop the first therapeutic vaccine for HPV 
  • HPV agonist epitopes target early HPV genes that are responsible for maintenance of the malignant phenotype. Gardasil and Cervarix target late genes and would not be effective in treating established tumors
  • HPV agonist epitopes activate HPV-specific CTLs that lyse tumor cells and control tumor growth/rejection 

Development Stage:
Pre-clinical (in vivo)

Related Invention(s):


Jeffrey Schlom (NCI)  ➽ more inventions...

Kwong Tsang (NCI)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
Application No. 62/497,064
Application No. PCT/US2017/06010

Tsang KY, et al. Identification and characterization of enhancer agonist human cytotoxic T-cell epitopes of the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E6/E7.  PMID 28389098

Collaboration Opportunity:

Licensing and research collaboration

Licensing Contact:
John Hewes, Ph.D.
Phone: 240-276-5515

OTT Reference No: E-169-2016
Updated: Oct 12, 2018