Dr. Benjamin Jin, a biologist working on immunotherapy for HPV+ cancers, holds test tubes as he works in the lab of Dr. Christian Hinrichs, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, February 7, 2018.
Experimental trials are ongoing at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a US government-funded research hospital where doctors are trying to partially replace patients' immune systems with T-cells that would specifically attack cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. A person's T-cells will naturally try to kill off any invader, including cancer, but usually fall short because tumors can mutate, hide, or simply overpower the immune system.
Immunotherapies that have seen widespread success, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapies, mainly target blood cancers like lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia, which have a tumor antigen -- like a flag or a signal -- on the surface of the cells so it is easy for immune cells to find and target the harmful cells. But many common cancers lack this clear, surface signal. Hinrichs' approach focuses on HPV tumors because they contain viral antigens that the immune system can easily recognize.
 / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Dr. Benjamin Jin, a biologist working on immunotherapy for HPV+ cancers, holds test tubes as he works in the lab of Dr. Christian Hinrichs, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, February 7, 2018. Experimental trials are ongoing at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a US government-funded research hospital where doctors are trying to partially replace patients' immune systems with T-cells that would specifically attack cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. A person's T-cells will naturally try to kill off any invader, including cancer, but usually fall short because tumors can mutate, hide, or simply overpower the immune system. Immunotherapies that have seen widespread success, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapies, mainly target blood cancers like lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia, which have a tumor antigen -- like a flag or a signal -- on the surface of the cells so it is easy for immune cells to find and target the harmful cells. But many common cancers lack this clear, surface signal. Hinrichs' approach focuses on HPV tumors because they contain viral antigens that the immune system can easily recognize. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:27
What you should do to prevent HPV
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28:  Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:15
Trump issues bizarre statement about Kentucky Derby winner
KRDO
Now playing
01:26
Six killed in shooting at Colorado birthday party
Justin Bamberg nr intv 05092021
CNN
Justin Bamberg nr intv 05092021
Now playing
04:05
Hear why this lawmaker is comparing his state to North Korea
Now playing
03:29
Renowned chef offers $50 gift card to those who get vaccinated
Kevin McCarthy 05092021
Fox News
Kevin McCarthy 05092021
Now playing
03:30
Watch McCarthy confirm support for Stefanik for GOP leadership post
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 01: Medina Spirit #8, ridden by jockey John Velazquez, (R) crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby ahead of Mandaloun #7, ridden by Florent Geroux, and Hot Rod Charlie #9 ridden by Flavien Prat , and Essential Quality #14, ridden by Luis Saez, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 01: Medina Spirit #8, ridden by jockey John Velazquez, (R) crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby ahead of Mandaloun #7, ridden by Florent Geroux, and Hot Rod Charlie #9 ridden by Flavien Prat , and Essential Quality #14, ridden by Luis Saez, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:50
Kentucky Derby winner's trainer speaks out after doping allegations
CNN
Now playing
02:02
WH Covid-19 response coordinator: We're turning the corner on pandemic
caitlyn jenner immigration path to citizenship bash intv sot vpx_00000000.png
caitlyn jenner immigration path to citizenship bash intv sot vpx_00000000.png
Now playing
01:20
Caitlyn Jenner: Immigrants should have a legal path to citizenship
CNN/@walidbarahmeh
Now playing
03:04
China's out-of-control rocket lands on Earth
CNN Weather
Now playing
01:53
Severe storms threaten millions this Mother's Day
CNN
Now playing
03:05
3 injured in Times Square shooting
Getty Images
Now playing
00:46
Actress Tawny Kitaen dies at 59
screengrab kabul bomb
Reuters
screengrab kabul bomb
Now playing
01:35
Families of schoolgirls describe anguish after blast kills dozens
Colonial Pipeline
Now playing
01:49
Cyberattack forces major pipeline to shut down temporarily
Now playing
02:35
US infection rate hits 7-month low as vaccinations rise
Palestinian protesters hurl rocks amid stun grenade sparks during clashes with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images
Palestinian protesters hurl rocks amid stun grenade sparks during clashes with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:45
Israeli police clash with Palestinians at mosque
(CNN) —  

Boys aged 12 and 13 will be offered the HPV vaccine in all British schools from September, in a move health officials say will prevent thousands of cancer cases.

The jab would protect against a range of cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) including throat, penile and anal strains of the disease.

The National Health Service (NHS) will offer the vaccine free to boys in Year Eight of secondary schools across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – 11 years after the measure was introduced for girls.

In total, the HPV vaccine program could prevent over 100,000 cases of cancer by 2058, officials said.HPV is a group of 150 related viruses that can be transmitted through any form of sexual contact, whether kissing or intercourse.

In most cases, the human body will get rid of it naturally, but certain high-risk types can develop into things like genital warts and cancers.

About 5% of all cancers worldwide are linked to the HPV virus, including cervical cancer and some affecting the head and neck. In the United States, high-risk HPV infections cause about 3% of all cancers in women and 2% in men, according to the National Cancer Institute.

To date 10 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given to young women in Britain, meaning that more than eight out of ten women aged 15 to 24 have been vaccinated.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life if they don’t get the HPV vaccine.”

The vaccine is a mimic of the virus particle, but when administered into someone’s muscle, it creates many more antibodies than a natural infection would, according to John Doorbar, professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Cambridge.

Public Health England found that since the jab was introduced infections of some types of HPV (HPV 16/18) in 16 to 21 year old women have reduced by 86 per cent in England. A Scottish study also showed that the vaccine has reduced pre-cancerous cervical disease in women by up to 71 per cent.

Besides protecting boys, the new development will also help reduce the overall number of cervical cancers in women, through a process known as “herd immunity.”

The government body cited research by the University of Warwick which estimated that, as a whole, the HPV vaccine programme could prevent up to 64,138 cervical cancers and 49,649 other cancers by 2058 - 50 years after it was first introduced for girls. That would include some 30,000 cancer cases in males.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), encouraged parents of all eligible children to “take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine” without delay.

In a statement, she added: “This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme.

“Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in girls and reduce the overall burden of these cancers in both men and women in the future.”

It is important not to delay the vaccine as it can become less effective as adolescents grow older, according to Dr Ramsay. A second dose is administered between six and 24 months after the initial jab.

Extensive research of the vaccine by leading health bodies worldwide shows that it offers protection for at least a decade, although experts say it could last for much longer and may even be lifelong, according to Public Health England.

The USA is one of the few other countries to offer the vaccine to boys. Last month the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, known as ACIP, voted unanimously to recommend HPV vaccines for both boys and girls and men and women until age 26.

Previously it recommended that teen girls and young women who had not been adequately vaccinated receive the vaccine up to 26, but the recommendation for teen boys and young men only went up to 21.

Prof Arne Akbar, president of the British Society for Immunology, said in reaction to the news: “The extension of the HPV vaccine to boys will build on the proven success of the girls’ program to protect boys from human papilloma virus infections that can cause a variety of cancers including those of the anus, mouth and throat.

“The government now needs to work with the NHS and local authorities to ensure that we maintain efforts to actively communicate the important health benefits of this vaccine to parents and adolescents. We encourage parents of eligible boys and girls to take up the offer and protect future generations against these preventable diseases with the HPV vaccine.”