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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is widely known to cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer. However, you might not know that HPV also causes 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancer, a subset of head and neck cancers that affect the mouth, tongue, and tonsils. Although vaccines that protect against HPV infection are now available, they are not yet widespread, especially in men, nor do they address the large number of currently infected cancer patients.

Helminthic parasites, like hookworm and liver flukes (schistosomiasis), affect an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Infection from hookworm and schistosomiasis result in a combined loss of as much as 92 million disability-adjusted life years annually. Little progress has been made to relieve this global burden and eradicate these parasites until now.

What are the most common disease-causing pathogens encountered by humans? Where do these pathogens reside in the environment?

The biggest disease-causing pathogens  are cold and flu, which are spread through respiratory secretions when someone sneezes, and contaminated environments. The questions for contaminated environments are; how do we keep the surface clean? And, how do we prevent individuals from touching a surface and then their faces including their mouths?

 

A Phase I clinical trial testing the safety of vaccines that might have the potential to prevent HIV infection will begin this month at four sites in the United States, marking the latest step in a three-decade quest at UMass Medical School to harness the power of DNA vaccines in addressing a major global health threat. The study, which is the result of research by Shan Lu, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, will also monitor the vaccine's ability to create an immune response against HIV.

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