Natural Treatment for HPV? Exciting New Research Unveiled

New research presented on March 23rd at the Society of Gynecological Oncology 45th Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, shows that cervical cancer cells in mice treated with AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound), a Japanese mushroom extract, led to the eradication of human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as decreased tumor growth.

The study, which was led by Judith Smith, Pharm.D., BCOP, CPHQ, FCCP, FISOPP, Associate Professor in Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) Medical School in Houston, involved incubating cervical cancer cells with AHCC for up to seven days then observed for another seven days to confirm eradication. The study was then repeated in multiple studies with two mouse models either for HPV positive model and HPV negative model as a control.

HPV expression was eliminated over a 90-day period of once-daily immunotherapy dosing, with a durable response confirmed after 30 days after treatment was removed. Dr. Smith then repeated the study to confirm her findings and added samples for testing of immune markers to determine how AHCC experimentally eradicates the HPV virus and its results showed that AHCC could potentially be a natural treatment for HPV.

“The results of this study were very encouraging,” said Dr. Smith, Associate Professor at UTHealth Medical School. Smith added that “the [research], initiated in 2008 shows that by itself AHCC has the potential” to serve as a natural nutritional supplement treatment for HPV.

A pilot human study is currently underway at UTHealth to confirm findings from these pre-clinical studies and determine required duration of AHCC treatment required to eliminate HPV infections and hopefully prevent HPV-related cancers.

When asked why she got into AHCC research, Dr. Smith said, “I was intrigued by research presented at the annual AHCC symposium in Sapporo [Japan] showing the immune modulating effect of AHCC on […] rare infections, and was eager to study the possibilities in treating the HPV infection associated with cancer.”

AHCC is a common, well-tolerated nutritional supplement that has been used for decades in Japan, so I am very excited to be pursuing a nutritional approach to trying to find a treatment for HPV infections,” added Dr. Smith.

Finding a treatment for HPV is vitally important as 1. the HPV vaccine only covers 2 of the 15 strains of HPV  and 2. according to the National Cancer Institute of the NIH, “there is currently no medical treatment for HPV infections.” Women who are diagnosed with high risk HPV need to undergo additional testing and/or screening to detect cervical cancer.

Also, according to a new Canadian study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, results showed that two thirds of heterosexual couples in a new sexual relationship harbored HPV, and the risk was strongly associated with previous experience. 

AHCC works as an immunomodulator, which means that it uses the body’s own immune system to help fight disease. Human studies and research using cultured human cells have shown that AHCC increases the number and activity of natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells and cytokines, which enables the body to effectively respond to infections and to block the spread of tumors.

HPV DNA has been detected in 99.7 percent of all cervical cancer biopsies and up to 70% of sexually active adults will acquire HPV at some point in their lives.  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. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The AHCC Research Association and the investigators wish to point out that AHCC supplementation is not intended to replace an HPV vaccine approach.  The best approach to cancer prevention is to prevent the HPV infection altogether, which is currently with appropriate vaccination and education about preventing exposure.