Efforts are under way to develop a vaccine against one of the world's deadliest illnesses, cervical cancer. Along with a number of university research laboratories, at least a half-dozen biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are beginning clinical trials or are in preclinical development of such drugs. Efficacy in humans remains to be firmly established, but if the vaccines progress to later-phase trials, challenging jobs for immunologists, microbiologists, and biochemists will multiply.

"This is an area of enormous potential," says Michael Steller, chief of the gynocologic oncology surgery branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). "I can't emphasize enough the opportunity that exists-for cervical cancer as much as any cancer I can think of-to develop an anticancer vaccine."

About 15,800 cervical cancers are detected and almost 5,000 fatalities recorded each year in the United States, according to NCI. Worldwide, reported deaths number about 44,000 per year. The annual cost of managing the...

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