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A commonly-used HIV drug could also be employed to help prevent some cases of cervical cancer.

According to research from the University of Manchester, the drug lopinavir can be used to attack the human papilloma virus (HPV).

It does so by switching on a natural viral defence system in infected cells, which could prevent HPV-related cervical cancer.

The disease is one of the most common women's cancers in the world, accounting for around 290,000 deaths a year.

Co-author on the paper, Dr Lynne Hampson, commented: "These results are very exciting since they show that the drug not only preferentially kills HPV-infected non-cancerous cells by re-activating known antiviral defence systems, it is also much less toxic to normal non-HPV infected cells.

"Lopinavir is obviously safe for people to take as tablets or liquid but our latest findings provide very strong evidence to support a clinical trial using topical application of this drug to treat HPV infections of the cervix."

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