Research suggests that a synthetic compound similar to vitamin A may cure cervical cancer cells while allowing normal cervical cells to survive relatively unscathed. Scientists announced that the compound, called N-(4-hydroxyphenyl-)-retinamide, or 4HPR, may be used to cure other types of cancer as well. In the study, 90 percent of cultured cervical cancer cells died after being exposed to 4HPR for 24 hours, while 80 percent of normal cervical cells survived. The drug works by activating one of the body’s natural cell suicide mechanisms. This mechanism is interrupted in cancerous cells.