Hamlet Pharma Labs researching a breast milk compound which kills cancer
Swedish scientists from the University of Lund have found promising results from researching the effects of a compound found in breast milk – a substance nicknamed Hamlet (Human Alpha-Lactalbumin Made LEthal To Tumor Cells) – on bladder cancer patients. In the early trials, those injected with the compound began to shed dead tumor cells through their urine within days. The best part is, the Hamlet targeted the cancer cells alone, thus offering an alternative to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments which damage both healthy and cancerous cells in the body.
The early trial involved 40 patients with hard-to-treat bladder cancer. All 20 who were given the drug rather than placebo, in six infusions over 22 days, excreted whole tumor fragments in their urine. Then, there was another human trial involving nine bladder cancer patients. These participants were administered five daily doses in the week before surgery to remove their tumor. Eight of them started passing tumor cells in their urine just two hours after being given the drug, and their tumors reduced in size or aggression. None of them suffered any damage to surrounding tissue. The trial was overseen by scientists from Lund University in Sweden and carried out at Motol University Hospital in Prague.
Immunology Professor Catharina Svanborg discovered that Alpha1H kills tumor cells in 1995 while at Lund University, and then founded Hamlet Pharma Ltd to test the drug. She discovered the substance by accident when she was researching antibiotics. She was just looking for novel antimicrobial agents and breast milk is a rich source of them. In one of the team’s experiments human cells and bacteria we required, and they decided to use human tumor cells. “To our amazement, when we added this compound of milk, the tumor cells died. It was a totally serendipitous discovery,” she said.
Scientists in Hamlet’s lab
She hoped that it could break up many kinds of tumors completely allowing them to be passed safely from the body and continued researching. She said:
Alpha1H aids in the production of lactose, the milk sugar that is essential for baby nutrition and to make the milk fluid. When it unfolds, it changes its function and forms tumoricidal complexes. It has a very exciting dual function depending on the 3D structure.
We have very strong data in mice showing dose-dependent reduction of the tumor, to the point of disappearance. And we have laboratory evidence for effects against many different types of cancer cells and it is therapeutic in animal models of brain tumors and colon cancer as well as bladder cancer. The results inspire us to continue the efforts making Alpha1H available to cancer patients.
It turns out, breast milk contains the alpha-lactalbumin protein that becomes a cancer-fighting agent inside the stomach while leaving the healthy cells unharmed. The compound goes straight to the cell’s core by targeting the mitochondria and the nucleus, avoiding the cancerous cells outer defenses completely. There, it deprives the cell of energy from the source. Then, the apoptosis process goes into effect to reprogram the cell so that it weakens and dies. “There’s something magical about Hamlet’s ability to target tumor cells and kill them,” Professor Svanborg said.
Scientist researching the breast cancer compound under a microscope
In Britain alone, about 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year but only half will survive for 10 years. This drug could change these stark statistics. It has been found to kill more than forty types of cancer cells in animal trials. Furthermore, since it triggers tumor death by promoting apoptosis (the natural process of cell death) there’s no need to treat patients by poisoning them with harmful chemicals. “We need more evidence but hopefully this could be the gentle chemotherapy of the future,” says Mats Persson, CEO of Hamlet Pharma Ltd.
Now, the team is planning to conduct more trials to find out if the drug can shrink tumors and improve survival for people with bladder cancer. The scientists believe the breast milk compound could potentially help bowel and cervical cancer patients as well. Next, they hope to conduct further research and trials to test the promising benefits of this life-giving compound in those realms as well.