A few weeks ago, I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to go inside a viral oncology research lab at St Marys hospital in Manchester and not only learn about the type of ground-breaking research carried out by some of Britain’s top scientists, but I was also one of the first to hear about a possible cure for cervical Cancer.
The incredible Dr Ian Hampson and his wife Lynne, have invested vast amounts of time (years) and money (including their own) researching viral oncology, in particular the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is the cause of more than 99% of cervical cancers. Did you know that 1 in 5 of us carry HPV? Who knows how many of us will then go on to develop Cancer from it. The HPV vaccine offered in schools, only immunises against SOME strains of HPV and it is ONLY an effective prevention if the person doesn’t already have HPV. The vaccine is only prophylactic and could do more damage than good, if given to someone who already has the HPV virus.
Most women who are found to have pre-cancerous cells or early stage cervical disease, are left to wait up to 6 months, to see if those cells develop into cervical cancer. The treatment for those that do, is then a costly, painful and unpleasant surgical treatment, which can lead to infertility, as well as cause other issues for women. That surgery is called a loop incision. If loop incision doesn’t work after the first few attempts, the next stage is total hysterectomy. And if that doesn’t work… well I don’t think I need to say any more.
Dr Hampson and his team, have discovered that HIV drug Lopinavir can successfully rid the cervix of those abnormal cells in just 4 weeks.
Lopinavir is currently an oral tablet, licensed for use in Britain, as an HIV drug. It is recognised to be 100% safe and to cause no side effects. In Dr Hampsons phase 1 tests, Lopinavir in pessary form, was found to be 90% successful in killing pre-cancerous cells on the cervix in just four weeks. Dr Hampson believes that the remaining 10% would be successful with a further dose of Lopinavir. Those women, treated by Lopinavir, would be able to avoid surgery. Furthermore, Lopinavir COULD treat more advanced stages of cervical cancers (yet to be tested).
So what’s the problem?
Lopinavir is currently only licensed in the UK in oral form. To be best effective in treating early stage cervical disease, it needs to be reformulated into pessary form, to target the site of the infection. Lopinavir is also only licensed in the UK for use as an HIV drug. Due to UK doctors being unable to use innovative treatments without fear of litigation, it is going to be a long time (and cost a lot of money), before Lopinavir can be reformulated and relicensed for the correct purpose. This drug, could be saving lives and preventing women with pre-cancerous cells, from the heartache of developing cancer.
As someone who has had two different Cancers in my life, it seems ridiculous, that a safe, licensed drug, cannot be used to treat women with cervical disease, when it has been proven (in phase 1 testing) as a cure. Cancer is a horrible disease, with long term effects on body and mind. Even for survivors, Cancer is a very testing and difficult battle for the families and friends of a patient, as well as the patient themselves. Personally, I found that being a mum, made fighting Cancer so much more emotionally challenging. You have more to fight for and that fight is more important, because you are fighting to stay here on earth with your family. You have to get better so that you can raise your children, watch them grow up and make you a grandma. But having to be away from your family, having all those “what if’s” going around your head, picturing how they will cope if you lose your battle with Cancer… I can’t describe to you how that feels. That’s the part of Cancer, that us mum’s keep to ourselves.
If we can prevent people, from having to go through this, then we should be.
And you CAN help!
Do you remember when I blogged about The Saatchi Bill, and how it could change the future for Cancer treatments and bring us cures sooner? Well now is the time to take action. If the Saatchi Bill is passed, researchers like Doctor Hampson, will be able to get their drugs tested and available sooner. Doctors of the people who need these drugs, will be able to prescribe them, without fear of litigation.
The basics of the Saatchi Bill…
Doctors will be allowed to use new innovative treatments, like Lopinavir, if the patient gives fully informed consent, and a multi-disciplinary panel agree that it is the best treatment for the patient. You can read my full post on The Saatchi Bill here.
Now we need you.
Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill is now open for Public Consultation. Please support this bill, by filling in the form below. We can make this happen. We can change the future of medical research. Not just to find better treatments and cures for Cancers of all kinds, but for numerous illnesses. By signing this form, you could quite literally, save peoples lives.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the government will support the Saatchi Bill and pass it as law but ONLY IF THE PUBLIC SUPPORT IT.
Please take just thirty seconds to show your support here: