Can Breast Milk Cure Cancer?
So far the HAMLET research team has seen effects in brain tumors, colon cancer, and bladder cancer. Two clinical studies have been completed in patients with skin papillomas and bladder cancer.A potential cancer cure that uses a replica of a protein found in human breast milk is showing after the launch of clinical trials. Forty bladder cancer patients are taking part in human tests with a drug synthesised from alpha-lactalbumin, the most common protein in human milk, bound to a fatty acid known as oleic acid. Bladder cancer is associated with 200,000 deaths a year globally. It has a high recurrence rate and there is no cure.The experimental drug, Hamlet (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells), kills tumour cells seemingly without harming healthy cells. A previous trial involving nine bladder cancer patients found that eight of them started passing tumour cells in their urine just two hours after being administered Hamlet, and that their tumour reduced in size or changed character. Adjacent healthy tissues showed no sign of toxicity.
Its potential was discovered by accident in 1995 by a research group at Lund University, Sweden, led by Professor Catharina Svanborg. For the past 30 years the team has been developing and trialling Hamlet, a man-made version of a molecule found in breast milk, on a range of cancers in animals and humans.
How did you find HAMLET?
Due to research scientist were looking for natural antibacterial molecules in body fluids, they threw some lung cancer cells into the test tube with human milk and noticed that the tumor cells died. We had to repeat it a few times before we could believe our eyes.
How exactly does it work?
So what is this Compound’s Purpose in the Breast Milk?
There can be virus-infected cells in the intestine that need to be removed, instead of developing to become more mature, they could start to look like cancer cells. So, you could think of these HAMLET molecules as scavengers that remove cells like this that go the wrong way. There is also previous data on breastfeeding being protective for childhood lymphomas and certain kinds of intestinal cancers.
Have you Carried Out any Human Trials?
The patients have what’s called superficial bladder cancer, and, in part, we selected this variety because we have previously performed an academic human study in bladder cancer and have seen some positive effects, so it was considered that the most realistic indication for this type of trial.
Surprisingly, because there was no evidence of severe side effects, which is quite a relief. And then, of course, we’ll have to wait and see if the patients really benefit from this treatment. Tests on mice showed Hamlet limited the development of brain tumors and bladder cancer. It also prevented the development of colon cancer in baby mice, when given in their drinking water, suggesting that it might also be used to prevent tumors developing in people whose genetic history makes them susceptible to cancer.
Whether the world catches on to all the unseen benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding is irrelevant as long as all moms everywhere realize, breastfeeding or not, they truly are superheroes without a cape.