Gardasil® is a quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) protein-based vaccine containing genotype-specific
L1 capsid proteins of HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-6 and HPV-11 in the form of virus-like-particles (VLPs) as the active ingredient.
The VLPs are produced by a DNA recombinant technology. It is uncertain if the residual HPV L1 gene DNA
fragments in the vaccine products are considered contaminants or excipients of the Gardasil® vaccine. Because naked viral
DNA fragments, if present in the vaccine, may bind to the insoluble amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate
(AAHS) adjuvant which may help deliver the foreign DNA into macrophages, causing unintended pathophysiologic effects,
experiments were undertaken to develop tests for HPV L1 gene DNA fragments in the final products of Gardasil®
by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and direct DNA sequencing. The results showed that while the HPV-11 and HPV-18
L1 gene DNA fragments in Gardasil® were readily amplified by the common GP6/MY11 degenerate consensus primers,
the HPV-16 L1 gene DNA may need specially designed non-degenerate PCR primers for amplification at different regions
of the L1 gene and different stringency conditions for detection. These variable melting profiles of HPV DNA in the
insoluble fraction of the Gardasil® vaccine suggest that the HPV DNA fragments are firmly bound to the aluminum
AAHS adjuvant. All methods developed for detecting residual HPV DNA in the vaccine Gardasil® for quality assurance
must take into consideration the variable melting profiles of the DNA to avoid false negative results.
Keywords: AAHS nanoparticles, detection, DNA Sequencing, Gardasil®, HPV L1 gene DNA, HPV, human papilloma virus,
melting profiles, PCR, vaccine.
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