Home»Prevenzione»Chi è questo signore che ha salvato milioni di vite? Lo conosci?

Chi è questo signore che ha salvato milioni di vite? Lo conosci?

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Senza ricerche di Harald Zur Hausen, professore emerito di virologia e direttore al German Cancer Research Center dell’University of Heidelberg, oggi non esisterebbero i vaccini contro il papilloma virus (Hpv).

Ricerche che nel 2008 gli hanno permesso di ottenere il premio Nobel, “per la sua scoperta del papilloma virus come causa del cancro della cervice uterina”.

“Le infezioni persistenti da Hpv – si legge nelle motivazioni del Nobel – provocano più del 5% di tutte le forme di cancro al mondo”. Harald zur Hausen ne ha fatto la materia dei suoi studi. È lui che per primo ha identificato e clonato i ceppi Hpv16 e 18, che sono correlati al 70% di questi tumori.

Qual è la situazione attuale riguardo l’Hpv?

La ricerca scientifica per quanto riguarda le misure preventive è molto avanzata, il vaccino, è estremamente efficace.

Il risultato che non è ancora stato raggiunto è la vaccinazione di persone che hanno già acquisito l’infezione.

Per le donne vaccinarsi significa che più del 10% dell’incidenza mondiale delle forme di cancro legate all’Hpv può essere prevenuta. Per gli uomini, invece, la percentuale è del 6%. 

Le reazioni avverse contro i vaccini per il papilloma virus sono estremamente rare.

Se non prendiamo in considerazione le normali reazioni del corpo come gli arrossamenti nel punto in cui è stato effettuato il vaccino, alcuni dolori nelle prime 24 ore e, molto occasionalmente, un po’ di febbre, la sola reazione avversa più seria osservata è una forma di allergia contro la proteina presente nel vaccino. Questa reazione si verifica in un caso ogni 100mila.

Al momento si è a conoscenza di più di 200 tipi di papilloma virus in grado d’infettare l’uomo, ma solo una quindicina è considerata ad alto rischio, essendo collegata allo sviluppo di specifiche forme di cancro, come il cancro alla cervice uterina, alla cavità orofaringea (trasmesso attraverso la pratica del sesso orale), all’ano e ai genitali. Il papilloma virus è il più comune tra gli agenti sessualmente trasmissibili: colpisce, infatti, tra il 50% e l’80% della popolazione.

Ci vogliono tra 15 e 30 anni prima che il cancro possa svilupparsi dopo un’infezione persistente di Hpv e sono circa 500mila le donne colpite ogni anno, in tutto il mondo, dal cancro alla cervice uterina.

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