Research into AHCC® and HPV


At the Society for Integrative Oncology’s (SIO) 15th International Conference, Dr. Judith A. Smith of the University of Texas presented preliminary results of her ongoing NIH-granted phase II clinical trial investigating the functions of AHCC® to eradicate chronic HPV infection.

Preliminary results from one of the presentations made at the recent Society for Integrative Oncology 15th international conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, showed that daily supplementation with AHCC® could support the host immune system to eradicate Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection in women with HPV-positive PAP smears.

Early results of the ongoing clinical trial evaluating AHCC® for treatment of HPV were presented by principle investigator Dr. Judith A. Smith of McGovern Medical at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study is following 50 women for up to 12 months, with one group taking six capsules, each containing 500 milligrams of AHCC® (n=25), and a second cohort receiving placebo (n=25).

At the time of the preliminary analysis, 46 patients had completed the study. The results showed that at six months, 58.8 percent of the patients taking AHCC® showed no signs of the infection. In the placebo group, one patient showed no signs of the infection at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of study. AHCC® was well-tolerated in patients who received it.

“There currently is no standard of care for persistent, high-risk HPV infections so we have been taking a systematic approach over the past 10 years with our research. The bench studies and two pilot studies we have done one AHCC® supported rationale for our current ongoing phase II clinical trial to evaluate if AHCC® supplementation could support the host immune system to clear persistent HPV infections” Dr. Smith said about her research. “The goal of our research is to offer women a safe, clinically evaluated approach to clear persistent HPV infections.”

Persistent HPV infection is strongly linked to incidences of cervical cancer, and the infection is so common that an estimated 80% of sexually active people will contract the disease at some point in their lives 1. In 90% of cases, the immune system naturally clears the virus away within two years 2, but in some cases the immune system is not able to do so and the HPV infection becomes chronic – leading to increased risk of cervical and other cancers3. At present there are unfortunately no effective methods for treating these persistent infections.
While there have been many prior reports of the immunomodulatory properties of AHCC assisting the body in resisting various infections4,5,6, the preliminary results of Dr. Smith’s clinical trial present strong evidence regarding its ability to aid in the eradication of HPV infection.

Complementary use with the HPV vaccine

HPV infection was also raised as a topic during the general discussion of the ICNIM 2015 annual meeting, with Dr. Satoru Kyo of Shimane University giving a presentation regarding HPV infection and cervical cancer incidence. Dr. Kyo stated that “The E6 and E7 genes contained in the HPV genome do not just act as an oncogene, but also prohibit immune response. This is the reason why immune response to HPV becomes weak…since it is difficult to depend on natural immune response, a vaccine has already been developed…however, the vaccine is specific to HPV16 and 18, and for people infected with other types of the virus, the vaccine is not effective for them and in that case we have no way to prevent HPV infection”.

Dr. Kyo said that the integrative use of AHCC along with the HPV vaccine “stood up to reason” during this general discussion.

Promising data regarding the positive properties of AHCC on infectious disease has long been reported, with its immunomodulatory functions believed to play an important role.
While persistent HPV is strongly linked to incidences of cervical cancer, there are no underlying symptoms of HPV infection. Since there is no effective treatment for HPV infection, ‘watchful waiting’ is the only choice available, and entails patients being forced to live knowing that they are at increased risk of developing cancer. In short, there is no other option but to leave the burden of the disease with innate immunity, and hope it resolves naturally. AHCC can be deemed useful as it offers another option other than simple ‘watchful waiting’. For women with HPV positive pap smears, intake of AHCC to prevent disease progression and cervical cancer occurrence may be viable.

Alongside Dr. Smith’s research, studies performed by Yokohama City University into HPV have also been presented at past annual meetings of ICNIM.

Prior Research

As of 2019, Dr. Smith has been conducting research into AHCC and HPV for over ten years. During this period, she has evaluated AHCC supplementation from bench to bedside; beginning with pre-clinical laboratory work, evolving to animal work, which then further evolved to two pilot studies, and onwards to the Phase-II trial above. 
An article authored by Dr. Smith and her colleagues was recently published in the medical journal ‘frontiers in Oncology’,