Publish Date: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 11:00

Palaszczuk Government supports research into new vaccine to treat head and neck cancer

Immunologist Professor Ian Frazer is investigating the use of a new therapeutic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine he invented in treating head and neck cancers, thanks to the help of Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund.

Admedus Immunotherapies is working on demonstrating clinical proof of concept that the vaccine developed by the former Australian of the Year could potentially be used to treat the 600,000 new cases of all HPV-associated cancers recorded globally each year.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project, in which Admedus Immunotherapies is working with Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, had the potential to become a billion dollar market within three years of being approved.

“When Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou discovered a vaccine for the human papilloma virus in 1990 the health of women around the world changed for the better,” Ms Enoch said.

“This project, in which Advance Queensland is backing one of Queensland’s leading medical researchers, has enormous potential - from saving lives around the world to reinforcing Queensland’s reputation as a place to conduct and invest in research and clinical development.”

Health Minister Cameron Dick said it was exciting to see the government’s efforts to support world-class health and biotechnology companies such as Admedus bearing fruit.

“This is fantastic news. It highlights how medical research and a focus on innovation can deliver the very latest, world-class health services and care for Queenslanders,” Mr Dick said.

“This type of home-grown innovation can not only transform the lives of Queensland patients, but those of people right across the world.

“Here in Queensland, and particularly in Brisbane, we are well on our way to becoming a key regional and global hub for health and biotechnology investment and innovation.

“The funding being provided to Admedus both stimulates the health and medical research sector and ensures we are creating the jobs of the future.”

Professor Frazer said virus associated cancers made up 20 per cent of the cancer burden worldwide.

“Unfortunately, conventional treatments are not always successful,” Professor Frazer said.

“Harnessing the immune system is a new way to treat these virus associated cancers. Our research is testing an exciting new approach to cancer treatment, by targeting virus proteins within the virus-associated cancers. The body’s defences against infection know how to fight viruses and can be taught to recognise and fight the virus components hiding within the cancer.”


Ignite Ideas Fund

The Ignite Ideas Fund is part of the $420 million Advance Queensland initiative aiming to turn ideas into actions by investing in research and technologies, attracting new investment, building global partnerships and encouraging businesses to start and grow in Queensland.

For more information about the Ignite Ideas Fund, visit