HIV Drug Could Be Used to Fight HPV and Prevent Cervical Cancer

A widely used HIV drug could be used to prevent cervical cancer caused by infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), according to scientists.University of Manchester researchers say that the antiviral drug lopinavir can treat HPV by switching on a natural viral defense system in infected cells.

The researchers previously identified lopinavir as a potential treatment drug for HPV-related cervical cancer after performing laboratory tests on cell cultures.

“Since publishing our earlier work, we have now found that lopinavir selectively kills HPV-infected, non-cancerous cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unaffected,” said Dr Ian Hampson, from Manchester’s School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences, in a press release..

“Lopinavir kills these HPV-infected cells by re-activating a well-known antiviral system that is suppressed by HPV,” he explained.

In developing countries, HPV-related cervical cancer is still one of the most common women’s cancers and is responsible for approximately 290,000 deaths per year.

Even in developed countries, current HPV vaccines are not effective in women already infected. Also, the vaccines do not protect against all types of HPV and they are expensive.

Scientists say there is a need for a cheap and preferably self-administered treatment that could eliminate early-stage HPV infections.

The study was published in Antiviral Therapy.