Biomarkers for HPV-related cancers

This project investigates if biomarkers that can be used to identify an increased risk of cancer related to human papillomavirus infection
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Background and aim

Recent research suggests that human papillomavirus infection leads to an increasing number of cancers of the throat, vagina, penis, and anus worldwide.

HPV-related cancer takes many years to develop, and it has been shown that antibodies to HPV16 can be detected in blood up to 10 years before a cancer diagnosis.

This project investigates whether the specific antibody to HPV16 E6 occurs only in individuals who have developed cancer.

If this is the case, we will further investigate whether the antibody HPV16 E6 can be used as a biomarker to identify individuals at increased risk of developing HPV16-related cancers.

Data material

The Norwegian sample material was obtained from Janus serum bank, and consists of approx. 2400 blood samples from people who have developed cancer (in the throat, vagina, penis, and anus) and from cancer-free individuals. For some cancers, tumor tissue is also obtained for further analysis.

The samples from Janus are part of a larger international collaboration with material from nine different research biobanks from the USA, Australia and Europe. In total, samples from about 5,000 people were obtained. More than a third of those samples come from Janusbanken.

The Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum in Heidelberg, Germany, analyzes all the samples.


All serum samples have been collected and analyzed for antibodies. The results will now be published in international journals.
In parallel, we have worked to obtain tumor tissue from pathology laboratories in Norway. We have managed to retrieve tumor tissue from more than 500 cancer cases. These are now being analyzed for several types of antibodies.


Kreimer AR, Ferreiro-Iglesias A, Nygard M, Bender N, Schroeder L, Hildesheim A, Robbins HA, Pawlita M, Langseth H, Schlecht NF, Tinker LF, Agalliu I, Smoller SW, Ness-Jensen E, Hveem K, D'Souza G, Visvanathan K, May B, Ursin G, Weiderpass E, Giles GG, Milne RL, Cai Q, Blot WJ, Zheng W et al. (2019)
Timing of HPV16-E6 antibody seroconversion before OPSCC: findings from the HPVC3 consortium
Ann Oncol, 30 (8), 1335-1343
DOI 10.1093/annonc/mdz138, PubMed 31185496