You are all familiar with the health benefits of breast milk, but experts are now testing about a compound present in mother’s milk, which could help treat cancer.
Breast milk is being used to fight cancer after researchers, accidentally discovered it contains a substance that kills tumour cells. The accidental discovery of the effects, a certain compound which is found in breast milk, and nicknamed Hamlet, could mean a more targeted and effective way to kill cancerous tumour cells.
Breast Milk Could Be a Potential New Cancer Treatment
Researchers from the University of Lunt in Sweden have found some positive results from studying the effects Hamlet has on bladder cancer patients.
Trials in patients experiencing bladder cancer have already shown promising results and researchers believe the compound breast milk contains, which was nicknamed Hamlet, will also help fight cervical and bowel cancer.
Researchers also says that it homes in on cancer cells, then leaves healthy cells unharmed, therefore, it has none of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.
Professor Catharina Svanborg, the who made the first discovery, said that: “There’s something magical about Hamlet’s (the compound found in breast milk) ability, to target tumour cells and destroy them”.
She said a mother’s breast milk contained a protein known as alpha-lactalbumin, which is transformed into a cancer-fighting compound when in the gut.
Prof Svanborg, an immunologist at Lund University from Sweden, made the accidental discovery, that the substance kills tumour cells when working on antibiotics.
She said that: “They were looking for novel antimicrobial agents, and new breast milk is a perfect source of these”. During one test experiment, human cells were needed and bacteria to be present, and they chose human tumour cells for practical reasons.
“To their amazement, when they added this compound of milk, the tumour cells died. It was a totally serendipitous discovery.”
How Breast Milk Works as Cancer Treatment?
The substance known as Hamlet, attacks cancer cells in various ways. First it evades the cell’s outer defences, then it targets the “power station” mitochondria, and the “instruction manual” nucleus. These actions cut off the cell’s energy source and ‘programme’ it to kill itself, in a process called apoptosis.
Early trials in patients with bladder cancer showed, that those injected with Hamlet start shedding dead tumour cells in their urine within days.
A full-scale test, pitting Hamlet against a placebo ‘dummy drug’ is now planned.
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