SYDNEY, Australia ¿ A human papillomavirus virus vaccine licensed from Australian technology is being taken to Phase III trials by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.

The announcement of Phase III trials, after evidence of efficacy in the Phase II trials by Ed Scolnick of Merck Research Laboratories in Whitehorse Station, N.J., caused some excitement for the investors of CSL Ltd., in Melbourne, which holds the rights to the HPV vaccine.

In a series of updates about various Merck research, Scolnick revealed that the product was in Phase III trials. However, few further details about the trials were available apart from the bare statement by Scolnick, even to CSL.

Andrew Cuthbertson, head of research and chief scientist at CSL, said that it was a quadravalent vaccine, as there were four different types of molecules present ¿ two for genital warts (papillomavirus) and two for cervical cancer.

Originally developed at the University of Queensland, the vaccine is made up of recombinant virus-like particles. ¿ Mark Lawson