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Scaffold-stabilized L2 peptides as HPV vaccine offered by DKFZ

Organization name

DKFZ Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum



  • simple production in E. coli
  • increased titer of neutralizing antibodies
  • cross-immunity against other cancerogenic HPV strains


Cervical cancer is women's second most frequent cancer worldwide with an estimated 500,000 cases and approx. 250,000 deaths per year. It has been established that infection with certain ("high-risk") types of human Papillomaviruses (HPV) is the most important risk factor for the development of cervical cancer.

Two vaccines which are available on the market were developed on the basis of the HPV L1 protein. There are, however, some drawbacks to these L1-based vaccines: the immune reaction against L1 is mostly type-specific, meaning that there is hardly any cross-protection against HPV types that were not included in the vaccine. Also, the L1 vaccines have to be produced either in yeast or in insect cells, which makes production cost-intensive.

Our international team of researchers has come a huge step closer to a solution of these problems: the thioredoxin-L2 vaccine can be produced in standard E. coli bacteria, which makes a cost-effective production feasible. Moreover, immunization against peptides from the L2 protein gives a robust immune reaction that provides cross-protection against a variety of other high-risk HPV strains.

Development Stage

Scaffold-stabilized L2-vaccines have been produced and their efficacy has been shown in animal models.

The Technology

The thioredoxin-L2 vaccines consist of thioredoxin as a "scaffold" protein and one of several L2 peptide concatemers. The most effective peptides have been identified by epitope mapping; a positive correlation of the number of peptide units in the concatemer with the titer of neutralizing antibodies has been shown.

Applications and Commercial Opportunity

The proteins can be used as a vaccine to induce immunity against HPV primary infection (preventive vaccination).


The investigators are: Martin Müller and Ivonne Rubio, DKFZ Heidelberg, Germany, Massimo Tommasino, IARC, Lyon, France, and Simone Ottonello and Angelo Bolchi, University of Parma, Italy.

Intellectual Property

Immunogenic polypeptides comprising a scaffold polypeptide and a L2 polypeptide or fragment thereof (Patent Application EP08 172 349)

Further Information

No other public information is currently available, but further information (speaking with the inventor) is available under a signed Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA).

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