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Breast milk ingredient may reduce warts

A cream made from human breast milk  can dramatically reduce, and often eliminate, stubborn common warts, Swedish doctors reported.
/ Source: Reuters

A cream made from human breast milk and nicknamed Hamlet can dramatically reduce, and often eliminate, stubborn common warts, Swedish doctors reported.

Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells, which the researchers refer to by the whimsical acronym HAMLET, is the active ingredient that forces the wart cell to self-destruct by accumulating in each cell’s nucleus and interfering with its control process.

The results, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, may extend well beyond wart treatment because the same class of viruses that cause those growths are also responsible for cervical cancer, genital warts, and some types of skin cancer.

Since doctors can cheaply eliminate warts by freezing, the new cream “will probably never be able to compete with existing inexpensive therapies for cutaneous viral warts,” said Jan Bouwes Bavinck and Mariet Feltkamp of Leiden University Medical Center, in a Journal commentary.

“The real challenge, therefore, will be to prove it is also effective in the treatment or prevention of other conditions related to human papillomavirus,” or HPV, they said.

Common warts, which usually appear on the hands and feet, can be resistant to treatment with creams.

The Swedish team, led by Lotta Gustafsson of the University of Lund, found that three weeks of daily treatments with alpha-lactalbumin and oleic acid reduced the size of the warts by 75 percent or more in all 20 volunteers. A similar reduction was seen in only 15 percent of another 20 patients who got a placebo cream.

The placebo patients were then treated with the test cream as well.

After two years, all the warts disappeared in 83 percent of the 40 volunteers.

The patients were chosen because their growths had not responded to conventional treatments.

“Such nuclear accumulation does not occur in healthy cells, which remain viable in the presence of alpha-lactalbumin-oleic acid,” the Gustafsson team said.