Return to Communications Center

Advancing the Front Lines Against Cancer

In the fight against cancer, TEDxBeaconStreet speaker Dr. Cornelia Trimble is a valuable general. Not content to master a single area of medicine, Dr. Trimble is a professor of gynecology & obstetrics, oncology, and pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research involves tumor immunology, cervical cancer, and human papilloma virus (HPV), and she recently completed a terrifically successful clinical trial testing a therapeutic HPV vaccine, which was published in The Lancet, a prestigious journal of medical research.

HPV causes virtually all cervical cancers, so reducing the number of cases is largely accomplished by vaccinating against HPV to prevent infection. In the U.S., rates of vaccination with the preventive HPV vaccine are low, so HPV disease is not going to disappear any time soon. While the vast majority of HPV infections resolve themselves harmlessly, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. are projected to get cervical cancer this year, and more than 4,000 of them will die. On a global scale, HPV and cervical cancer disproportionately affect low-resource settings, where both screening and expensive cancer treatments can be especially difficult to obtain.

Dr. Trimble’s trial tested the effectiveness of a therapy that stimulates the immune system to attack cells infected by HPV16 or 18. By making a few of the patient’s immune cells produce a safe mimic of a viral protein, the therapeutic vaccine trains the immune system to eliminate precancerous cells. In this Phase 2 trial, 48% of patients experienced regression of their lesion. In 40% of the vaccinated patients, the virus disappeared entirely – a tremendous success rate. The Lancet called Dr. Trimble’s trial “a major breakthrough and proof-of-principle that therapeutic HPV vaccination is feasible”.

At TEDxBeaconStreet, we celebrate innovative thinkers, problem solvers, and people who advance human knowledge and exploration. We are very proud to count Dr. Trimble among our speakers, and can’t wait to hear more from this amazing woman in November!