Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Effect of the vaccine against human papilloma simulated

The HPV16-ALIFE computer model predicts the effects of applying a vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV). Its use could help establish the appropriate moment and the suitable dose to mitigate the effects of cervical cancer, the third most cause of death among women in Colombia.

Bogotá D. C., 08 de noviembre de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. Photo: Personal file.

Type 16 (HPV 16) causes most HPV cancers.

Low-risk HPVs do not cause cancer but do cause warts on the skin (Condylomata acuminata), genitals, anus, mouth, and throat.

In Colombia, cervical cancer is the third most frequent cause of death in women.

The model designed by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) IT and Computing Engineering Ph.D. María Elena Escobar Ospina, simulates the lifecycle of the HPV 16, responsible for most cancers produced by the HPV, including cervical, genital, anus, mouth and throat cancer. 

After researching in detail the development of the HPV in the human body she also studied the ways to prevent the disease.

“There are at least three types of preventive vaccines against HPV, provided that there hasn’t been previous exposure to the virus. Its efficiency depends on being administered before the person begins sexual activity,” she said. 

However these types of vaccines do not protect against all HPV infections that produce cervical cancer and –although it has been proven that they prevent future infections and lesions– they do not help to eliminate previously existent infections. 

Although her interest is focused on therapeutic vaccines (which treat an already present cancer) and trying to strengthen the natural defenses of the body, eliminating infected cells or reducing their amount. 

Use with therapeutic vaccines

The HPV16-ALIFE model reviewed three main components: The HPV life cycle, especially type 16; the human immune system (innate and adaptive), in charge of attacking organisms and substances that invade human systems and cause diseases and the possible targets for therapeutic vaccines for treating cervical cancer. 

The computer image of the prototype simulates the administration of a therapeutic vaccine indicating load, dose, and frequency. After it shows the changes that the immune system undergoes as well as the components which are stimulated or blocked by injecting the compound. 

To test the model they used virtual diseased patients; some received the vaccine and others did not. In other words some received the therapeutic vaccine (based on autologous dendritic cells without adjuvant, while others received the therapeutic vaccine with adjuvant (they tested three different types of adjuvants –substances injected simultaneously which make the immune response more effective–). 

Patients which did not receive the model developed cancer conditions with maximum rates of 18.86%; those that received the vaccine without  adjuvant had cancer reduction with a maximum rate of 1.81% and the patients treated with the vaccine and adjuvants, the cancer conditions only reached a rate of 0.65% when the first type of adjuvant was used (IL-2), a maximum rate of 3.12% when the second type of adjuvant was used (TLR3 agonist), and a maximum rate of 2.85% when they the third adjuvant (TLR9 agonist) was used. 

“We observed that most cell populations of the immune system initially try to protect the host of the persistent infection provoked by the virus. We also observed that vaccination strategies modify simulated microenvironments in the model and the variation of the behaviors according to the used vaccine,” said Escobar. 

Dosage accuracy 

Another contribution of HPV16-ALIFE is that when the immune system depletes its resources and detects an increasing population of cancer cells its makes use of the therapeutic vaccine. At this time the model says it has used a dose and indicates the specific week in which the action takes place. In other words, to mitigate the effects cancer they can determine an adequate moment and the optimal application dose. 

“The results were compared with real clinical studies. In this manner we verified that the artificial life model produces behaviors and trends similar to those observed in reality,” said Escobar. 

Therefore the model could be a support tool for researchers who study therapeutic vaccines to control cervical cancer; additionally it has the potential to help in the research of other types of cancer produced by other virus and other autoimmune diseases, as it reduced the assessment times showing possible results in a progressive manner when trying to focus different therapeutic goals through vaccines. 

Read the article in its entirety in Spanish at UN Periódico

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/LOF
)
N.° 829

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