A team of researchers led by Kailash Khetan of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research has identified a mutation in the human papillomavirus that is associated with increased risk of a hot spot.
The researchers used the DNA of about 2,000 men in their study to develop a database of more than 50,000 cases and 1,800 controls, including the vast majority of women who received the HPV vaccine in the US.
They found the mutation is located on chromosome 11, and was found in all of the men who tested positive for the virus.
The new mutation, which was also found in men with a higher proportion of women in the population, was found only in a small number of men, and is associated to the hot spot in the cervix.
“This is the first such study to show that the HPV-16 genotype is associated in men of high-risk HPV infection with a mutation of this kind in chromosome 11,” the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Medicine.
“It is a novel finding, in line with the previously described associations between HPV-20 and cervical cancer.”
The researchers also reported finding the same mutation in more than 1,400 women with cervical cancer, but only in about 2% of the women with the same HPV-18 genotype.
The new mutation is not linked to any HPV-related symptoms, such as pain, fever, sore throat or conjunctivitis.
“We hope that the mutation will help to identify people who are at increased risk for cervical cancer in future,” Khetana said in a statement.
Infection with the HPV16 genotypic variant was first identified in people in the UK and New Zealand in 2007, but the finding was not widely reported until a few years later.
However, the discovery of the mutation was not immediately noticed by the medical community until the UK Government issued guidelines recommending a vaccine for HPV-19 in 2016.
The HPV vaccine, which has been in use since 2009, has been associated with about 1.2 million cases of cervical cancer.
The vaccine has also been linked to an increased risk in women, but it is unknown how many of those women had the mutation.