The pioneering Australian scientist who discovered the cure for cervical cancer is on the verge of creating the world's first vaccine for skin cancer.

Professor Ian Frazer, former Australian of the Year, has revealed the vaccine could be ready within the next five to 10 years.

As with the jab now given to millions of young girls each year to prevent cervical cancer, children aged between 10 and 12 would be given the vaccine to prevent skin cancer later in life.

The new skin-cancer vaccine works by targeting papillomavirus, a common skin infection that affects most people and can linger in the body, turning abnormal cells into cancer.

Frazer and his team from the Diamantina Institute at the University of Queensland are focusing on preventing squamous-cell skin cancer, which is strongly linked to papillomavirus.

Testing on animals has shown the vaccine to be successful and human trials will start next year.

Australia has the world's highest rate of skin cancer with more than 380,000 people diagnosed with the disease and 1,600 dying from it each year.

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