This project is dedicated to exploring the use of fig latex for treating HPV-induced cervical cancer and understanding its healing properties. Fig latex, a substance derived from the unripe fruits of fig trees (Ficus Carica) at the time of harvesting, has a historical application in traditional medicine in Middle Eastern countries, where it has been used to treat warts - a skin infection caused by HPV.
In 2008, a Nobel prize was awarded to Harald zur Hausen, for the discovery of the relationship between HPV and cervical cancer. By successfully identifying both HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two types commonly known to cause cervical cancer, Prof Zur Hausen paved the way to the HPV vaccine.
After Prof Zur Hausen’s fascinating discovery, Dr Ashrafi, the lead researcher of this project, continued to study HPV-induced cervical cancer. He made the significant connection between the traditional treatment of HPV-induced warts with fig latex and the use of fig latex for the treatment of HPV-induced cervical cancer.
Previously, fig latex has demonstrated anti-cancer effects without causing any harm to healthy cells2 and preliminary studies have identified fig latex’s promise for treating, curing and preventing HPV-related cervical cancer3. Furthermore, fig latex has demonstrated increased selectivity towards cancer cells compared to normal cells suggesting the potential for more precise and effective treatment in targeting cancer cells.
Crucially, the project will be conducted in a lab setting, using cutting edge medicinal chemistry, molecular biology, and pathology techniques. Employing an animal-free, advanced 3D “tumour on chip model” highlights the project's dedication to ethical research practices and showcases its commitment to innovative methodologies.
This project seeks to offer a comprehensive understanding of the therapeutic potential of fig latex and assess its potential in enhancing treatment options for individuals battling HPV-induced cervical cancer, other cancers and HPV itself. The exploration of a new, lower risk approach to treating these diseases holds the promise of substantial societal benefits for those affected by HPV-induced cervical cancer.
- Bosch FX, Lorincz A, Muñoz N, Meijer CJ, Shah KV. The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. J Clin Pathol. 2002 Apr;55(4):244-65. doi: 10.1136/jcp.55.4.244. PMID: 11919208; PMCID: PMC1769629.
- Hashemi SA, Abediankenari S, Ghasemi M, Azadbakht M, Yousefzadeh Y, Dehpour AA. The Effect of Fig Tree Latex (Ficus carica) on Stomach Cancer Line. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2011 Apr;13(4):272-5. Epub 2011 Apr 1. PMID: 22737478; PMCID: PMC3371962.
- Ghanbari A, Le Gresley A, Naughton D, Kuhnert N, Sirbu D, Ashrafi GH. Biological activities of Ficus carica latex for potential therapeutics in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related cervical cancers. Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 31;9(1):1013. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37665-6. PMID: 30705373; PMCID: PMC6355798.