1980s – Researchersat the University of Rochester try toexperiment on HPV but are stymied by a dearth of the virus itself.
1986 –John Kreider finds a way to mass-produce HPV: He collects foreskins from infantcircumcisions, infects them with HPV, and grafts them onto mice whose compromisedimmune systems cannot reject the graft or fight the virus.
1990 –Evidence that HPV causes of cervical cancer mounts, and the race to developan HPV vaccine is on.
1990 –Researchers at the University of Rochester combine antibodies from infected rabbits with the live virus; theproof-of-concept vaccine successfully prevents foreskin-grafted mice fromcontracting HPV on their borrowed private parts.
1990-92 – Robert Roseand other Rochester researchersbuild a protein coat that mimics the shape of an HPV envelope without any viralDNA inside. Built by a harmless baculovirus that grows only on insect cells,the viruslike particles prevent future HPV infection but don’t carry any riskof disease.
1994 – Trialsusing killed strains of rabbit papillomavirus are close to 100 percenteffective in preventing future infections in rabbits. Unfortunately, there’s arisk that some viral DNA could still cause disease, so researchers turn to the viruslike particles for a safer vaccine.
1998 – AlanStorey finds a genetic mutation that increases the risk of cervical cancer and israre among Jewish women. So there was something significant about Jewishimmunity after all—it just wasn’t smegma.
2002 –Studies show that circumcised men have 60% less chance of contracting HPV,which translates into a slight reduction in cervical-cancer risk for theirpartners. This may explain why some circumcision studies from the '50s showed asmall reduction in cervical cancer among circumcised non-Jewish populations.
2005 –Merck and GlaxoSmithKline agree with the National Cancer Institute, Georgetown University,the University of Rochester, and the University of Queenslandto cooperate on two different HPV vaccines.
2005-2006 –Merck and GSK report that the two HPV vaccines made from viruslike particlesare 100 percent effective against the targeted HPV strains.
2006 – Merck’sHPV vaccine, Gardasil, is approved for use in the U.S., and physicians recommendvaccinating all young girls before they become sexually active. A second HPVvaccine, Cervarix, which is made by GSK and targets some different HPV strains, isstill in review by the FDA.