An HIV pill – lopinavir - has been found effective in curing cancer of the cervix, in what researchers at Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya called a breakthrough in treatment and curing of the disease.
Researchers, Dr Lynne and Dr Ian Hampson of Manchester University, UK, and Dr Innocent Orora Maranga of Kenyatta National Hospital, put 40 cervical cancer patients on the drug for two weeks. When tested for cancer after three months, more than 90 per cent of the patients were found to be free of the disease.
“For an early stage clinical trial the results have exceeded our expectations. We have seen women with high-grade disease revert to a normal healthy cervix within a short period of time,” read a statement issued by Manchester University Scientists who lead the trial in Kenya.
However, Dr Lynne Hampson one of the researchers said: “Further work is needed but it looks as though this might be a potential treatment to stop early stage cervical cancer caused by HPV.”
Dr Fred Okuku, a consultant oncologist, said that it’s too early to report success of the trial.
Cervical cancer is the leading cancer affecting women in Uganda with more than 3,577 women diagnosed with cervical cancer annually.
The first clinical trial looked at 40 HPV positive women with varying degrees of high and low grade pre-cancerous disease of the cervix.
They were treated with one capsule of the HIV pill twice a day for two weeks and self-administered the antiviral drug directly to the cervix.
The results showed that a high proportion of women diagnosed with HPV returned to normal following a short course of the new treatment.
After three months, out of 23 women with high-grade disease, 19 (82.6 per cent) had returned to normal and two had low-grade disease, giving an overall positive response in 91.2 per cent of those treated.
The 17 women initially diagnosed with low-grade disease also showed improvement.
Findings have been published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.