Kenya, UK Make Cancer Discovery

The announcement is a major breakthrough that will help reduce, by almost half, the up to 9,000 deaths in the region that occur every year due to cervical cancer, especially among poor women.

Scientists from Kenya and the United Kingdom have discovered a cure for the early stages of cervical cancer using a commonly used HIV drug, lopinavir.

The announcement is a major breakthrough that will help reduce, by almost half, the up to 9,000 deaths in the region that occur every year due to cervical cancer, especially among poor women.

Cervical cancer is caused by an infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) and is more than five times more prevalent in East Africa than the UK.

“The drug will only be of help if women are diagnosed early,” said Peter Gichangi, a consultant gynaecologist at Kenyatta National Hospital and lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Availability

Lopinavir, in its current formulation is available in capsules, tablets and oral solution.

The researchers from the University of Manchester and Kenyatta National Hospital however developed the drug into pessaries in gel form so that it can be applied directly to the cervix.

“In gel form the drug can melt easily, faster and smear itself on the walls of the cervix where these cancerous cells are found,” said Dr Gichangi.

Oraro Maranga, the lead study researcher in Kenya and a consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KNH, said that out of the six HIV drugs that were tested on the HPV cells during the laboratory test, lopinavir showed 100 per cent efficacy levels due to its high concentration levels that make it kill the cancerous HPV cells.

The laboratory tests were conducted at the University of Manchester and the phase one trials were then conducted at KNH.

– The EastAfrican