New Discovery Could Help Treat Patients with HPV Cancers

Researchers say discovery could help save lives

Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center discovered something that could lead to more effective treatment for patients with HPV cancers.

They discovered the human papillomavirus (HPV) may grow in a hypoxic tumor environment.  That means the virus takes advantage of low oxygen and grows more quickly.

The finding is crucial because 90 to 98 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, with more than 500,000 cases diagnosed annually.  At least 200,000 women die from cervical cancer every year.

The discovery means that researchers could find a way to prevent tumors from spreading.

The research, done on cells in culture and in animal models, may lead to the development of new therapies that target the cell signaling pathway, thereby interrupting ability of the cancer cells to thrive, said Dr. Matthew Rettig, senior author of the study and a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Matthew Rettitg, the study author,  hopes to have a drug available for human testing in the next five years.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. About 20 million Americans currently are infected with HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.

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