Years ago zur Hausen hypothesized that HPV causes cervical cancer

    Today he is vindicated

    TORONTO, Oct. 20 /CNW/ - Confronting a great deal of scepticism in the
70s, Dr. Harald zur Hausen postulated that strains of the human papillomavirus
(HPV) caused cervical cancer. More than 30 years later, he has been rewarded
for his life-long research into the infectious causes of cancer with both the
development of HPV vaccines and the granting of two prestigious scientific
awards: the Gairdner International Award and the Nobel Prize.
    Early in his career, Dr. Harald zur Hausen was convinced that the skin
wart virus, human papilloma, was implicated in cervical cancer. In 1974, Dr.
zur Hausen presented results showing that herpes simplex was not present in
cervical cancer at an international scientific conference. His results were
met with silence and quickly dismissed. A few years later, Dr. zur Hausen was
able to show that HPV 16 and 18 were present in approximately 70 per cent of
cervical cancers. But it wasn't until 1991 that epidemiological studies
confirmed that Dr. zur Hausen was right. HPV was the causative agent for
cervical cancer.
    Today, the development of HPV vaccines and his most recent scientific
awards testify to the vision and determination of Dr. zur Hausen, credited
with a number of important discoveries related to HPV, including:

    -   Demonstrating that there are multiple HPV genotypes
    -   Cloning HPV 16 and 18
    -   Showing that HPV 16 and 18 DNA is present in 70 per cent of cervical

    Dr. zur Hausen's findings led to discoveries by others, such as:

    -   Confirmation that HPV infection accounts for virtually all cases of
        cervical cancer
    -   Proving that a substantial proportion of other cancers are also
        caused by HPV, including vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal as well as
        head-and-neck cancers
    -   The development of HPV DNA testing as a cervical cancer screening

    "Dr. zur Hausen is a scientific role model for the perseverance he showed
during the long period of scepticism about whether HPV caused cervical
cancer," said Dr. Joan Murphy, Chair of the GOC Task Force on Cervical Cancer
Prevention. "Personally, I am honoured to share the stage with this living
legend. Using a vaccine built on his fundamental research is a major
innovation in achieving our goal of preventing cervical cancer."

    Attend a public lecture by a true pioneer of medical science

    The Gairdner Foundation is pleased to feature Dr. Harald zur Hausen at a
free public lecture entitled, "HPV: Vaccinating against Cancer", on Tuesday,
October 21 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the MaRS Centre, located at 101
College Street in Toronto.
    "The Gairdner Foundation takes pride in its ability to identify and
honour visionaries and Dr. Harald zur Hausen is part of this special breed of
scientists," said Dr. John Dirks, President of the Gairdner Foundation.
    The panel will include leading Ontario clinicians Dr. Nancy Durand,
Women's College Hospital and University of Toronto and Dr. Joan Murphy,
University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Hospital; Dr. Vivek Goel, Ontario
Agency for Health Protection and Promotion; and André Picard, Medical/Science
Journalist at the Globe and Mail.

    About HPV and cervical cancer

    Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women globally.
Worldwide, more than 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each
year and more than 230,000 women die as a result of the disease. HPV
infections in Canada annually lead to approximately 400,000 abnormal Pap smear
results, 85,000 consultations due to genital warts and 36,000 new cases of
genital warts, as well as 1,400 cervical cancer diagnoses and 400 cervical
cancer deaths

    About the Gairdner Awards

    In April of this year, Dr. Harald zur Hausen was chosen as one of six
awardees of the Gairdner International Awards for medical research. The
Gairdner awards, founded 49 years ago by the late Toronto businessman James
Gairdner, have grown to become one of the most prestigious international
awards for breakthrough discoveries that either halt disease or relieve
suffering. Today, more than 73 Gairdner Laureates, including Dr. Harald zur
Hausen, are also Nobel Prize winners. For more information, visit
    The Gairdner Foundation's national sponsor is the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research. The Gairdner Public Lecture is sponsored by Women's College
Hospital in partnership with the Globe and Mail and the MaRS Centre.

For further information:

Ramsay, Ramsay Inc.,, (416) 598-3970; Tiffany Shiu, NATIONAL
Public Relations,, (416) 848-1702

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