Test trials for cervical cancer get underway in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New trials will soon get underway at the West Cancer Center in Memphis that will target patients with newly diagnosed cervical cancer and  those with  reoccurring cervical cancer.

Researchers are using the body's own immune system to fight cervical cancer.

Most cervical cancer is caused by  the Human Papillomavirus.  Doctors say, unfortunately, that virus is able to hide from the immune system.

The trials will look at ways to get the immune system going again to attack the cancer cells.

"The first one we are getting ready to open it actually uses a bacteria Listeria and ordinarily if you have Listeria it would be a bad thing, but we've tweaked it so it doesn't cause the same infection process.  So, it's kind of a dead virus — and in place of the toxin it produces we've replaced it with a piece of the virus," said Dr. Adam ElNaggar, a Gynecologic Oncologist at West Cancer Center.

"So, now the bacteria goes into the body and the body says this is a bad thing and we need to ramp up our immune system up."

This will be phase three of the trials.  Doctors at the West Cancer Center said initial studies have shown positive results extending the life of those with locally advanced or recurrent cervical cancer.

"The results have been pretty spectacular for a cancer that is difficult to treat," said Dr. ElNaggar.

The West Cancer Center is a partner with Methodist Health Care and UT Health Science Center.