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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 01:56 GMT 02:56 UK
Breast milk treatment for warts
Wart (The New England Journal of Medicine 2004)
Wart before treatment
A cream containing an ingredient of human breast milk appears to be an effective treatment for warts.

The preparation, nicknamed Hamlet by is Swedish creators, has been shown to dramatically reduce, and often completely banish, stubborn warts.

It contains an ingredient that collects in the core of wart cells, and triggers them to self-destruct.

Details of a trial using the cream are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Common warts, which usually appear on the hands and feet, are caused by infection of the epidermal layer of the skin with human papillomavirus (HPV).

Wart (The New England Journal of Medicine 2004)
The treatment has a significant effect
They can be resistant to treatment with creams, but freezing is often an effective way to deal with them.

However, the researchers, from Lund University, hope their findings may eventually provide the basis not just for a treatment for common warts, but for more serious conditions too.

The same class of viruses that cause warts are also responsible for cervical cancer, genital warts, and some types of skin cancer.

The key ingredient of the cream - a compound called alpha-lactalbumin-oleic acid - collects in the nuclei of the wart cells, causing massive disruption to their control processes.

However, the same accumulation does not occur in healthy cells, which remain unaffected.


The researchers found that three weeks of daily treatment with the cream reduced the size of warts by at least 75% in all 20 volunteers.

A similar reduction was seen in only 15% 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% of the 40 volunteers.

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

Dr Edel O'Toole, of the Centre for Cutaneous Research in London, described the research as "interesting", but sounded a note of caution.

She told BBC News Online that at least 65% of warts cleared up without treatment within two years - so a cure rate of 83% was not as impressive as it might first seem.

She said the figures did not justify trials of the cream as a treatment for types of skin cancer which were linked to human papilloma virus because there was a risk that the cancer might spread outside the skin.


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