A Scottish scientist who was involved with the development of the vaccine for HPV, believed to be a contributor to some cases of cervical cancer, is now researching viruses that may lead to skin cancer and how best to tackle them.
Professor Ian Frazer told the Scotsman that his team were “seeing whether there might be a virus there that might be amenable to a vaccine that would help reduce the burden of skin cancer”.
Frazer said that there is “a lot of evidence to suggest that there’s another factor beyond the sunlight that determines whether you get the cancer” and that they are “now working on the basis that we should be looking for [a virus] that might cause skin cancer much earlier in the process”.
He added, though: “It took 15 years to turn the knowledge that [HPV] could cause cervical cancer into a working vaccine and another ten years to prove that it worked. I don’t think, sitting without the knowledge of the virus at the moment, [a similar vaccine] would be anything less than ten years away.”
He also took care to stress that such a vaccine would not enable people to expose themselves to sunlight without a risk of cancer.