Common HIV drug could be used as pre-cancer treatment

4th May 2011

A vaccine which is used to treat HIV can be used to attack the virus which causes cervical cancer, research has found.

The University of Manchester conducted a study which showed that using the drug lopinavir helped to kill cells affected by the human papilloma viruses (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer, while leaving healthy cells alone.

Researchers also discovered that the vaccine can re-activate an anti-viral system which is suppressed by the HPV virus.

Study author Dr Ian Hampson said: "This is a very significant finding as these cells are not cancer cells but are the closest thing to being like the cells found in a pre-cancerous HPV infection of the cervix."

It has been suggested that around one in six women in the UK is infected with HPVs, which can be transmitted through sexual contact.

Scientists now understand that HPV is the root of all cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women in the UK.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Hampson, Ian et al. "The HIV protease inhibitor lopinavir up-regulates expression of the antiviral protein ribonuclease L in HPV positive cervical carcinoma cells." Antiviral Therapy. May 2011

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