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The ground-breaking technology behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine could be used to combat cervical cancer, potentially wiping out early signs of the disease before it has time to progress.

A trial is under way at several NHS hospitals giving more than 50 women who test positive for pre-cancerous tissue on their cervix a specially designed HPV jab.

After a year, researchers will examine whether the pre-cancerous tissue is still on the cervix, along with any traces of HPV (human papillomavirus), an infection which is almost always present when women develop this cancer.

The trial, called Apollo, involves a vaccine called VTP-200, which targets HPV but is different from the HPV jab given to teenagers as it uses an inactivated chimpanzee adenovirus – the same technology as in the AstraZeneca Covid jab.

The ground-breaking technology behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine could be used to combat cervical cancer, potentially wiping out early signs of the disease before it has time to progress

The ground-breaking technology behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine could be used to combat cervical cancer, potentially wiping out early signs of the disease before it has time to progress

The ground-breaking technology behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine could be used to combat cervical cancer, potentially wiping out early signs of the disease before it has time to progress

A trial is under way at several NHS hospitals giving more than 50 women who test positive for pre-cancerous tissue on their cervix a specially designed HPV jab. Above, an illustration of HPV (human papillomavirus) - an infection which is almost always present when women develop this cancer

A trial is under way at several NHS hospitals giving more than 50 women who test positive for pre-cancerous tissue on their cervix a specially designed HPV jab. Above, an illustration of HPV (human papillomavirus) - an infection which is almost always present when women develop this cancer

A trial is under way at several NHS hospitals giving more than 50 women who test positive for pre-cancerous tissue on their cervix a specially designed HPV jab. Above, an illustration of HPV (human papillomavirus) – an infection which is almost always present when women develop this cancer

It has been created by Vaccitech, a company co-founded by Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the lead creators of the Covid vaccine.

It is hoped that if it is successful at eliminating both of these warning signs, the treatment could replace invasive surgery to remove the worrying tissue which thousands of women face each year.

‘If we could treat the early signs of cervical cancer without surgery, that would make a massive difference to the wellbeing of so many women,’ says Professor Pierre Martin-Hirsch, a gynaecologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust who is involved in the trial. ‘We believe this vaccine could be the solution.’

Cervical cancer, which affects about 3,200 women every year, is one of the best controlled cancers in the UK. 

This is due mainly to the success of the large-scale screening programme, in which women undergo smear tests. 

This has reduced the number of cases by nearly 60 per cent since it was introduced in 1988.

The screening looks for signs of HPV, a common virus is the cause of most cervical cancers.

When HPV is present, doctors then look to see if any pre-cancerous cell changes have occurred on the cervix.

If they have – and doctors believe these changes are likely to become cancerous – then a procedure to burn away cells or remove part of the cervix may be needed.

While almost always safe and effective, the surgery carries risks to the woman’s reproductive system, increasing the risk of later miscarriage and infertility.

Source: DailyMail

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