UCL Cancer Institute


New drug trial effective in shrinking cervical cancer tumours

16 June 2017

Wellcome Images hpv…

A new drug trialled at the NIHR/Wellcome UCLH Clinical Research Facility (CRF) could help improve outcomes for women with advanced cervical cancer. More than a quarter the participants in trials of the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab experienced significant tumour shrinkage or complete remission. 

Nivolumab, which works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, is already licensed to treat lung cancer and melanoma (skin cancer).  

However, this is the first time the treatment has been shown to be effective for cervical cancer. The multi-centre early phase trial, carried out at the CRF and other centres in the UK, Europe and the United States, involved 24 women with advanced cancers of the cervix and nearby tissues who failed to respond to traditional treatment. 

Professor Tim Meyer, CRF Clinical Director and Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at UCL Cancer Institute, said: 'This is very exciting and we are now recruiting for larger-scale trials to confirm the findings. Immunotherapy treatment has shown good results in other cancers and is showing real promise in cervical cancer, giving hope to patients for whom there were no other options. We believe this could prolong the lives of many patients and even put some into remission.' 

Nivolumab targets and blocks a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells, called T-cells. Blocking PD-1 activates T-cells to find and kill cancer cells. 

The breakthrough findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2017 conference.

Further information

Related news

Launch of new clinical research facilities to advance cancer diagnostics and therapies at UCL/UCLH

The final stages of an £8.9 million award to advance cancer medical research facilities at UCL/UCLH, were celebrated with a launch event marking the implementation of new cancer genomics and imaging technologies that will support two world-class cancer research programmes.