HAMLET – From Shakespearian Tragedy To Cancer Killing Human Breast milk
The Swedes are an inventive bunch, well known for social innovation they also brought us: the telephone handset, the three pointed seat belt, the implantable pacemaker and yes, dynamite…
Professor Catharina Svanborg of Lund University is the latest in a long line of Swedish medical innovators. She challenges conventional thinking on how proteins react when making contact with cancer cells. Her focus is on human breast milk containing alpha-lactalbumin proteins and how they kill carcinogenic cells. She utilises alpha-lactalbumin to create a partially folded ‘mutant’ form of protein which does not return to its more naturally ‘unfolded’ state. Fatty acids are then introduced which display the tumouricidal outcomes while targeting only cancer cells. Eventually her team of researchers hit upon oleic acid to produce the active anti-tumour compound.
Professor Svanborg has formed a Company: HAMLET Pharma (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells) to conduct trials and commercialise the research. The Company has very recently announced their first clinical trial in patients with urinary bladder cancer.
Clearly, we may have been here before as this research builds on the findings of Otto Warburg who in the 1920’s identified glucose fermentation as a driver of cancer cell growth. Dr Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work, a prize instituted by… Alfred Nobel. Circling back to the future, Mr Nobel was also the inventor of dynamite. He was not only Swedish but another unconventional thinker and latterly, a peace promotor. Perhaps this version of HAMLET won’t turn out to be such a Shakespearian tragedy after all – given a bit more time and effort.