ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The cancer center at the University of New Mexico has discovered a common drug that can reduce the risk of HPV infection and HPV-related cancers. Dr. Michelle Ozbun is a professor of molecular genetics & microbiology and of obstetrics & gynecology at UNM. She and her team have discovered that a drug called protamine sulfate can block HPV infection.

In a research article published earlier this year, the team described how the drug molecules bind to heparan sulfate cell receptors, preventing HPV particles from doing so. Ozbun and her team say that not only will protamine sulfate prevent HPV infection but it will also reduce the risk of infection, even after cells have been exposed to the virus.

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A UNM Health Sciences press release states that since protamine sulfate has been FDA-approved for decades, getting the drug approved for a different use will just require efficacy testing.

Protamine sulfate counteracts a blood-thinning medication called heparin, which is often given to people before surgery to avoid complications during a procedure. The drug is injected intravenously after surgery to restore the blood’s ability to clot.

Ozbun and her team are looking into ways the drug can be used topically and have plans to study how protective protamine sulfate is when combined with hyaluronic acid, which is commonly used in skin moisturizers and sexual lubricants.