Breast and cervical cancer breakthroughs raise hopes

HIV drug has potential to treat cervical cancer, and breast cancer genes discovered.

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Two significant breakthroughs in the treatment of cervical and breast cancers are raising hopes in the fight against the deadly diseases.

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British scientists say a simple treatment using a commonly prescribed HIV drug could prevent cervical cancer. The drug lopinavir kills cells infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) while leaving healthy cells mostly unharmed, research suggests. It seems the drug would be applied as a cream or pessary.

HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, which affects 3,000 women in Britain each year and accounts for more than 900 deaths.

“I was speechless when I saw the results. I think this drug or others like it undoubtedly has a future as a treatment that can prevent cervical cancer,” said Dr Ian Hampson, who led the study.

In separate research, scientists say the discovery of three new breast cancer genes could see lifesaving drugs available in five years. The genes were ‘next door’ to the oestrogen receptor gene, the main cause of hormonal breast cancer.

Researchers have likened the discovery to “finding gold in Trafalgar Square” and now hope to find new drugs that will attack these genes.

Breast cancer is the UK’s most common cancer. The hormonal form of the disease accounts for the majority of the 12,000 deaths each year, with 37,000 women affected in total.

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