Chemical found only in breast milk 'breaks tumours into tiny fragments'
... so cancer patients can pass them in their urine without damaging healthy tissue
- Milk sugar Alpha1H is essential to a baby's development
- Study of 20 bladder-cancer patients found they excreted tumour fragments
- Triggers cancerous cell into 'suicide' and may be 'gentler' than existing chemo
A chemical found only in breast milk can break tumours into tiny fragments that cancer patients can pass in their urine, research suggests.
The milk sugar alpha1H, which is essential to a baby's development, has been shown to destroy tumours without harming healthy tissue.
One study found 20 bladder cancer sufferers excreted tumour fragments in their urine after just six infusions of alpha1H.
Further research suggests patients start to pass malignant tissue within two hours of treatment.
When alpha1H binds to the fat oleic acid, they form a 'tumoricidal' complex that triggers cancerous cells into 'suicide'.
Researchers from the Czech Republic hope this could be a 'gentler' form of chemo, with conventional treatments 'poisoning' cells and causing nasty side effects.
The drug manufacturer Hamlet Pharma Ltd plans to test if the chemical shrinks bladder tumours and improves patient survival.
The milk sugar alpha1H, which is found only in breast milk, breaks tumours into tiny fragments that cancer patients can pass in their urine without damaging healthy tissue (stock)
The research has been carried out by Motol University Hospital in Prague and was overseen by Professor Catharina Svanborg, who founded Hamlet Pharma Ltd.
Professor Svanborg accidentally discovered alpha1H kills tumour cells while at Lund University, Sweden, in 1995.
She was looking at how breast milk fights germs. It is common practice to do this on human cancer cells because they behave differently to other cells and can survive laboratory conditions, South China Morning Post reported.
Professor Svanborg was amazed to discover the cancer cells were disappearing.
'Alpha1H aids in the production of lactose, the milk sugar that is essential for baby nutrition and to make the milk fluid,' she told The Telegraph.
'When it unfolds, it changes its function and forms tumoricidal complexes.'
Bladder cancer is the 10th most common form of the disease in the UK, with more than 10,300 people being diagnosed every year, according to Action Bladder Cancer UK.
And in the US, around 80,470 people are expected to develop bladder cancer in 2019, according to the National Cancer Institute.
One study saw 40 bladder-cancer patients with hard-to-treat tumours being given alpha1H or placebo during six infusions over 22 days.
All 20 patients who received the breast milk chemical passed tumour fragments in their urine.
Another trial saw nine bladder cancer patients being given five daily doses of alpha1H in the week before surgery to remove their tumours.
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