Earlier this year, the biotech community mourned the loss of Michael Becker, a former pharmaceutical industry executive who turned his cancer into a teaching moment. In 2018, we watched on his blog as cancer drugs failed him, as he became hale and hearty as he stopped chemo, and then as the cancer returned. The tumors invaded his bones, so he needed a cane. In July, his cancer killed him.
Becker’s cancer was caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV. On Tuesday, researchers published new data that show how preventable his case was if only he’d had a chance to have the vaccine, Gardasil. The data also underline one of the very lessons he tried to drive home: A vaccine that is still largely seen as one for girls and women needs to be offered to boys and maybe men, too.