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Research update: AHCC® found to clear HPV in a human clinical study conducted by Dr. Judith A. Smith

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Many of you have expressed interest in the results of Dr. Judith A. Smith’s HPV study on the use of AHCC® in people with HPV. Her previous studies showed positive findings, suggesting that AHCC® may help eradicate HPV in individuals with persistent high-risk infections. We are excited to learn that a further clinical trial confirms positive findings and will soon be published.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer represents around 10 percent of all cancers worldwide. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus found to cause 99 percent of cervical cancers and is also associated with cancers of the throat, anus, vagina, vulva, and penis. 

High-risk strains of HPV infect the epithelial layer of cells of the cervix. When HPV infections persist overtime (classified by positive HPV testing over two or more years), there is an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. As we understand more about the cause and progression of cervical cancer and HPV, we are also learning more ways to prevent and protect against it.

Research has evaluated the use of a natural medicinal compound, AHCC® on HPV infections.

What is AHCC® and how can it help eradicate HPV? What Do Your Pap Results Mean?

AHCC® stands for Active Hexose Correlated Compound. It is a nutritional supplement derived from shiitake mushroom that acts as an immune modulator. The compound is safe and effective at increasing the number and activity of immune molecules including natural killer cells, dendritic cells, and cytokines, which help the body identify and fight off infections.

The standardized extract of AHCC® was developed in Japan in 1992 by the company Amino Up Chemical Co. Ltd. Several studies have reported a variety of therapeutic effects from AHCC®, including antioxidant, anticancer activity, and improved immune responses. The positive findings of AHCC® in enhancing the immune response have led to the question of whether the compound could benefit people with HPV.

The human research on AHCC® and HPV has been led by Dr. Judith A. Smith, Pharm D. a Professor and Director of Women’s Health Integrative Medicine Research Program in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School. Here is what we currently know about Dr. Smith’s recent research endeavors:

From Bench to Bedside

In 2019, Dr. Smith published an article in the Frontiers in Oncology entitled: From Bench to Bedside: Evaluation of AHCC supplementation to Modulate the Host Immunity to Clear High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Infections.

The study found clearance of high-risk HPV in vitro, in mouse models, and in two human pilot studies of 10 patients. The human trials found dosing of 1-3 grams of AHCC® daily for 3-8 months led to a 44-66.7% clearance rate of HPV infections. Dosing of 3 grams led to slightly higher clearance rates than 1 gram. This research study spurred further interest in the topic and led to a recently completed phase II trial.

The New Research

The most recent research study was a human double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. This means that the participants and the researchers were not aware whether the participants had supplemented with AHCC® or with placebo.

The study included 50 participants, evaluated for either active treatment with a 3-gram dose of AHCC® for 6 months or a placebo. Participants were followed for 12 to 30 months. Individuals that continued to be HPV positive at the end of the 12 months, were considered treatment failures. Those that were negative after 6 months were followed for another 6 months to confirm if they remained HPV negative.

This study also evaluated immune markers like CD8+ T cells or natural killer (NK) cells to monitor the physiological response to AHCC® supplementation.

While the results of the study have yet to be published, Dr. Smith has confirmed reports that the results are aligned with the positive findings found in the first two pilot studies. The results of this follow-up study will be published this year.

As soon as the new paper is made available, we will be the first to share it with you.

What’s next?

We are excited about the growing knowledge base around HPV, cervical dysplasia, and cervical cancer prevention and the use of natural medicine to play a role in responding to HPV naturally.

Dr. Smith plans to extend the research to evaluate the potential of AHCC® supplementation in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of HPV related cancers.

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