A Pilot Study of Ribavirin to Treat Recurrent or Metastatic HPV-Related Cancers

Full Title

A Pilot Study of Ribavirin for Patients with Recurrent/Metastatic (R/M) Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-Related Malignancies


Ribavirin is a drug commonly used to treat a liver infection called hepatitis C. Prior studies of ribavirin in people with cancer have shown that it can be given at higher doses than those used to treat hepatitis C.

Ribavirin targets a protein called 4E that causes cells to grow by turning on a part of the cell called the ribosome. Cancers that are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, such as certain head and neck cancers and cervical cancers, have abnormally high levels of the 4E protein. It is possible that ribavirin could inhibit the growth of these cancers by inhibiting 4E.

The purpose of this study is to see if ribavirin could be a useful treatment for patients with advanced HPV-related cancers that have come back or spread despite prior therapy. Ribavirin is a pill that is taken orally (by mouth).


To be eligible for this study, patients must meet several criteria, including but not limited to the following:

  • Patients must have an advanced HPV-related cancer, such as oropharynx, anal, cervical, vaginal, vulvar, or penile cancer.
  • Patients’ cancers must have come back or spread despite other therapy.
  • Patients must be physically well enough that they are fully ambulatory, capable of all self care, and are capable of all but physically strenuous activities. As an example, patients must be well enough that they would be able to carry out office work or light housework.
  • This study is for patients age 18 and older.

For more information and to see if you are eligible for this study, please contact Dr. David Pfister at 646-888-4232.