Treating cervical cancer cells with AHCC led to the eradication of HPV, human papillomavirus, as well as a decrease in the rate of tumor growth in-vitro and in-vivo, in research presented at the Society of Gynecological Oncology 45th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer in Tampa, Florida. The study was led by Dr. Judith A. Smith, Pharm.D., at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) Medical School at Houston.
In the study cervical cancer cells were treated with AHCC and incubated for 72 hours with sampling every 24 hours. The study was then repeated in two orthotopic mouse models, one HPV positive and other HPV negative control. The HPV expression was eradicated with once daily AHCC dosing for 90 days with durable response after 30 day observation off treatment. Dr. Smith then repeated the study to confirm findings and added sampling for correlative testing of immune markers to determine the mechanism by which AHCC eradicates the HPV virus.
These data suggest AHCC can eliminate HPV infections and may have a role in the prevention of HPV-related cancers. A confirmatory pilot study in HPV+ women is underway at UTHealth Women's Center.
"The results of this study were very encouraging," said Dr. Smith, Associate Professor at the UTHealth Medical School. "This study, initiated in 2008, shows that by itself AHCC has the potential to treat the HPV infection," she said. Smith's previous study evaluated AHCC integration with common chemotherapy agents used for the treatment of ovarian cancer, to screen for potential drug interactions and improvement in activity.
AHCC works as an immunotherapy, which is a treatment that uses a body's own immune system to help fight disease. Human and in-vivo studies have shown that AHCC increases the number and/or activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and cytokines, which enable the body to effectively respond to infections and block the proliferation of tumors.
HPV (human papilloma virus) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. Up to 70% of sexually active adults will acquire HPV at some point in their lives. Human papillomavirus DNA has been detected in 99.7% of cervical cancer biopsies, yielding the largest causative relationship of any cancer. (1) According to the CDC several other types of cancer are also HPV related, including: 95% of anal cancer; 60% of oropharyngeal cancer; 65% of vaginal cancer; 50% of vulvar cancer; and 35% of penile cancer.
"I was intrigued by research presented at the annual AHCC symposium in Sapporo (2) showing the immune modulating effect of AHCC on other rare infections, and was eager to study the possibilities in treating the HPV infection associated with cervical cancer," said Dr. Smith.
"AHCC is a common, well tolerated nutritional supplement that has been used for decades in Japan, I am very excited to be pursuing a nutritional approach to trying to find a treatment for HPV infections," said Dr. Smith, whose research is on drug development for gynecologic cancers and conditions with a specific focus on drug interactions/drug resistance and integration of herbal and nutritional supplements for treatment of cancer.
"We had previously demonstrated an antiretroviral regimen that successfully eradicated the HPV infection but wanted to develop a more benign protocol, since these medications have a number of side effects," Dr. Smith continued.