I felt like this blog post was particularly appropriate, especially after one of Dr. Bob's Inbox talks about an individual interested in using components from Japanese shiitake mushrooms. It appears that these mushrooms might be helpful in developing a treatment for human papillomavirus (HPV). As we've discussed in class before, HPV is an oncogenic virus in humans, leading to a whole range of cancers, including cervical, anal, vaginal, oropharyngeal, and penile cancer amongst others. However, there is no effective treatment targeted at the virus currently, with most treatments aimed at controlling the related conditions of infection such as genital warts or cervical cancer.
A study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School demonstrated that women who were HPV-positive could be treated with doses of AHCC extract from shiitake mushrooms. Specifically, the study found that of ten HPV-positive women, five of those women who took the supplement one time daily for six months had a negative result for the presence of HPV. The proposed mechanism of the effect of AHCC is to increase the effect of Natural Killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and the cytokines increased, either by increasing the number of cells or enhancing their activity.
According to the researchers, six months appears to be an optimal length of time for taking the supplement in order to eradicate the virus by improving innate immune functions. It will be interesting to monitor the progression of this research moving forward and to see what the disease prognosis is for a larger cohort of individuals, both men and women.