Jian Zhou

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Jian Zhou (Chinese: 周健; pinyin: Zhōu Jiàn; 1957 – March 1999) was a Chinese virologist and cancer researcher, who with fellow researcher Ian Frazer, invented Gardasil and Cervarix, the vaccines for stimulating human immunological resistance to the cervical cancer-inducing human papilloma virus.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Zhou was born in 1957 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. He was admitted to Wenzhou Medical College in 1977 and graduated 1982. His wife Xiao-Yi Sun (孙小依) was his classmate at the college. He subsequently earned a master's degree from Zhejiang Medical University, where he pursued his research interest in HPV.[2] He then earned his M.D. at Henan Medical University (now medical school of Zhengzhou University) and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Beijing Medical University, before moving to the University of Cambridge in 1988 to continue his research in cancer and virus.[3]

HPV and Papilloma vaccine[edit]

Zhou met future research partner Ian Frazer at the University of Cambridge in 1989, bonded by a mutual respect and willingness to push the limits of their research. The two considered the problem of developing a vaccine for HPV – a virus that cannot be cultured without living tissue.[4]

Frazer convinced Zhou to join him at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, and in 1990 they began to use molecular biology to synthesize particles in vitro that could mimic the virus. In March 1991 Zhou's wife and fellow researcher, Xiao-Yi Sun, assembled by Zhou's instructions[5] two proteins into a virus-like particle (VLP),[6] resembling the HPV shell, from which HPV vaccine would ultimately be made.

The vaccine completely protects unexposed women against four HPV strains responsible for 70% of cervical cancers,[7][8] which kill about 250,000 women annually.[9][10]

Frazer and Zhou filed a provisional patent in June 1991 and began work on developing the vaccine within UQ. To finance clinical trials, Australian medical company CSL, and later Merck, were sold partial patents.[11] (CSL has the exclusive license to sell Gardasil in New Zealand and Australia, Merck the license elsewhere.)[12] GlaxoSmithKline independently used the same VLP-approach to develop Cervarix, under a later US patent, licensing Frazer's intellectual property in 2005.[13]


In March 1999, Zhou died of hepatitis, a disease he had contracted as a young man in China. He was survived by his wife Xiao-Yi Sun and son Andreas Zhou.[14]

In 2008, Zhou's contribution to his efforts in research, including his work with the Gardasil vaccine, were formally recognised with a commemorative service attended by over 300 people, and included a written tribute from the Australian Prime Minister of the time, Kevin Rudd in Brisbane, Australia.[14]

Published papers[edit]

  • Zhou et al. “Increased Expression of Vaccinia Recombinant HVP 16 L1 and L2 ORF Proteins in Epithelium Cells Is Sufficient for Assembly of HVP Virion Like Particles”, J. Gen. Virology, 1990, pp. 2185–2190, Vol. 71.
  • Zhou et al. “Increased Antibody Responses to Human Papilloma Virus Type 16 L1 Protein Expressed by Recombinant Vaccine Virus Lacking Serine Protease Inhibitor Genes”, Chemical Abstracts, Nov. 5, 1990, Vol. 13, No. 19
  • Zhou et al. “Human Pappilomavirus Type 16 Virions Produced by Recombinant Viccinia Virus”, Abstract from 1991 Papilloma Virus Workshop (Seattle, WA 1991)
  • J. Zhou, X.Y. Sun, D.J. Stenzel, I.H. Frazer, “Expression of Vaccinia Recombinant HPV 16 L1 and L2 ORF Proteins in Epithelial Cells”, 185 Journal of Virology 251 (1991), pp 251–257


References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lowy DR, Schiller JT (May 2006). "Prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccines". J. Clin. Invest. 116 (5): 1167–73. doi:10.1172/JCI28607. PMC 1451224. PMID 16670757. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  2. ^ Xu, Qi (2016-07-21). "他,发明了人类首个癌症疫苗 背后故事令人动容". Zhejiang Online. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  3. ^ Lu, Jian (2016-07-05). "周健:研发宫颈癌疫苗的"无名英雄"". Phoenix News. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  4. ^ Sterling, J. C., ed. (August 2001). "1". Human Papillomaviruses: Clinical and Scientific Advances. London: Hodder Arnold. ISBN 978-0-340-74215-0.
  5. ^ Vaccines Forgotten Man [www.theaustralian.com.au/news/tribute-to-vaccines-forgotten-man-story-e6frg600-1111116233989]
  6. ^ Williams, L. (August 2006). "A Simple Idea". Reader's Digest.
  7. ^ Sawaya, G. F.; Smith-McCune, Karen (10 May 2007). "HPV Vaccination – More Answers, More Questions". The New England Journal of Medicine. 356 (19). doi:10.1056/NEJMe078088. Previous reports showed a remarkable 100% efficacy of a quadrivalent vaccine targeting HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 on outcomes related to vaccine HPV types in women with no evidence of previous exposure to those types [...] subgroups of subjects with no evidence of previous exposure to relevant vaccine HPV types were evaluated separately for vaccine efficacy. In these subgroups, efficacy of nearly 100% against all grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma in situ related to vaccine HPV types was reported [...] Why is vaccine efficacy modest in the entire cohort? One factor is the apparent lack of efficacy among subjects with evidence of previous exposure to HPV types included in the vaccine. The FUTURE II trial showed no effect of vaccination
  8. ^ Walker; J. (9 October 2005). "UQ Team Defeats Cervical Cancer". The Courier-Mail. Ian Frazer’s break-through vaccine is 100 per cent effective against the most common form of the virus that causes cervical cancer, according to final-stage trial results [...] a delighted Professor Frazer, 52, said last night: 'It is very rare, almost unheard of, to achieve a 100 per cent efficacy rate in any treatment, so these results are truly wonderful.'
  9. ^ Estimates of the contemporary global mortality rate have remained in the 190,000 to 300,000 range from 2000 to 2010. The 2007 WHO progress report says that preventable cervical cancer "was responsible in 2005 for up to 500,000 new cases, and up to 257,000 deaths, more than 90% in low- and middle-income countries", but, "According to WHO’s projections, deaths from cervical cancer will rise to 320,000 in 2015 and to 435,000 in 2030" (p.4). These projections may be little effected by vaccination programs (anyway unlikely on cost grounds) because "A reduction in cancer incidence and mortality might not be measurable before 10 to 30 years after the vaccine is introduced." (p.5). Other estimates of the problem's scale are broadly in agreement:
    • Kennedy, F. (25 January 2006). "UQ Australian of the Year Will Continue Fight for Women's Health". UQ News. Professor Frazer said Australia and other developed nations had effective Pap smear programs to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. 'Despite this, cervical cancer continues to be a shocking disease for women in the developed world. Women living in poverty in the developing world, where Pap smears are not widely available, account for most of the 250,000 deaths from cervical cancer each year. So this vaccine has the potential to do most good in the developing world, where it could help lift women out of poverty by relieving the burden of disease
    • "Transcripts – Professor Ian Frazer". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 May 2010. Ian Frazer was made Australian of the Year in 2006. He and his team at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane have developed a vaccine to beat cervical cancers that kill 250,000 women a year worldwide.
    • "Cervical Cancer Statistics". CervicalCancer.org. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 29 May 2010. A woman dies of cervical cancer approximately every 2 minutes. In less developed countries, this type of cancer is the second most common in women and accounts for up to 300,000 annual deaths.
  10. ^ Kantrowitz, Barbara (15 March 2010). "Message in a Bottle The subtle ads for drug giant Glaxo's new cervical-cancer drugs have people talking". Newsweek. Retrieved 29 May 2010. Cervarix may also protect against other types that cause cervical cancer, but more research is needed to confirm this. ... GlaxoSmithKline's] estimate of the prevalence of cervical cancer in USA roughly matches the National Cancer Institute's statistics. But according to the World Health Organization, the disease is far more common in developing countries, which account for 80 percent of the annual cases worldwide and about 190,000 deaths a year (compared to about 4,000 deaths in USA).
  11. ^ Chen, Huanhuan; Wang, Danhong (22 October 2007). "An interview with Jian Zhou's wife, Dr. Xiaoyi Sun". Science Times.
  12. ^ Siers-Poisson, Judith (18 July 2007). "Profit Knows No Borders, Selling Gardasil to the Rest of the World". Center for Media and Democracy. Archived from the original on June 24, 2009. The federal government will also cover young women who are not in school and are still under 27 years through their general practitioners and community immunization clinics. This age group will receive the vaccine free from July 2007, until the end of June 2009.
  13. ^ Beran, Ruth (21 June 2006). "Ian Frazer's patent problem". Australian Life Scientist. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Jian Zhou died in 1999, but he was an equal partner
  14. ^ a b "Tribute to Vaccines Forgotten Man". The Australian. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Jian Zhou Publications". Retrieved 7 August 2014.

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