Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are associated with the development of cancers at a number of epithelial sites. These include the anogenital sites of the uterine cervix, vulva, vagina, penis and anus, and within the oropharyngeal tract; primarily the tonsil and base of tongue. The incidence of HPV-associated cancers show site-dependent variability; it is decreasing at the cervix, moderately increasing at the penis, vagina and vulva, and showing significant increases at the anus and oropharynx.
HPV research at the University of Birmingham was established in the 1980’s and focused on the investigation of the molecular biology of the virus life cycle and the natural history of HPV infection in women. Understanding the fundamental biology of HPV infection at different body sites has remained a strong focus, leading to a greater knowledge of key virus-host interactions. This information has been instrumental in the development of targeted drug discovery programmes and trials of new therapies for HPV-associated disease.
Current principal investigators active in HPV research are:
- Professor Hisham Mehanna
- Dr Jo Parish (Persistence and virus-host interactions)
- Dr Sally Roberts (Molecular biology of the virus life cycle and pathogenesis)
- Professor Ciaran Woodman (Epigenetic reprogramming and novel therapeutics)