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Lopinavir Shows Promise in Preventing Cervical Cancer

August 30, 2006

Lopinavir, an anti-viral medication commonly used in people with HIV, has been shown to hold potential for preventing cervical cancer. Lopinavir is a protease inhibitor and a key component of Kaletra, a top-selling drug manufactured by Abbott Laboratories.

The preliminary study results were recently reported by BBC News online and Reuters Health, among other news channels.

Lopinavir attacks the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. Investigators Dr Ian Hampson and colleagues at the University of Manchester in Great Britain tested lopinavir against HPV, the most common cancer-causing strain of HPV.

"The drug works as a selective proteosome inhibitor,” Dr Hampson reportedly explained. “It allows cellular proteins that are detrimental to the virus to persist." Without lopinavir, HPV would normally remove these proteins from the cell.

Dr Hampson reportedly said he is confident that lopinavir will be effective against other HPV strains that are known to cause cervical cancer.

The investigators have suggested that lopinavir, taken orally, may be worth developing into an anti-cancer cream or pessary, based on early laboratory tests. Such a drug might offer women with precancerous lesions an alternative to surgery.

No clinical trials of lopinavir’s potential preventative role in cervical cancer have yet begun.

Because the drug is already FDA-approved to treat HIV, it is likely that a suitable preparation might be available to treat HPV in a few years.

According to BBC.com, Michael Carter of HIV organization Aidsmap said, "This latest finding is extremely welcome. Many HIV-positive individuals are infected with high-risk strains of HPV. Anal and cervical cancer caused by HPV is a real concern for people with HIV."

Mr Carter also noted that other research exists to support using some anti-HIV drugs to treat hepatitis B. People with HIV are more susceptible to HPV-related cancers and other diseases, because HIV compromises the immune system.

Hope rests on further studies, in a clinical setting. According to Dr Laura-Jane Armstrong of Cancer Research UK, the work by Dr Hampson and colleagues is "an interesting study, but the research has only been done on cells in the laboratory and we don’t yet know if it will work in humans.

"Currently, the best thing women can do to prevent cervical cancer developing is to go for regular cervical smear tests when invited."

Sources:
HIV drug stops cervical cancer in laboratory test, Reuters Health, August 25, 2006.
HIV drug can stop cervical cancer, BBC.com, August 24, 2006.

Posted: August 2006


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