Clinical Trial at UAMS Demonstrates Effectiveness of Wart Treatment

By todd


LITTLE ROCK – A recent large-scale clinical trial at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) of an injection-based treatment for warts has drawn national attention for demonstrating that the procedure is effective not only against the injected wart but also for distant non-injected warts.

The study, published in the May issue of the Archives of Dermatology, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was led by Thomas Horn, M.D., chairman of the Department of Dermatology in the UAMS College of Medicine, and Sandra M. Johnson, M.D., a former assistant professor of dermatology in the UAMS College of Medicine.


The treatment uses approved skin test antigens to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight and destroy the warts.


Of participants receiving the antigens in the trial, 60 percent were completely clear of warts, according to the study. Forty-nine percent of patients with multiple warts who received the antigen treatment saw distant, untreated warts clear. The treatment also proved effective for the majority of patients who received it in two previous studies.


The immunotherapy treatment is novel because it uses antigen preparations of mumps and two other fungal organisms normally used to test patients’ immune status. The skin test antigens cause a reaction on the skin if a person has been previously exposed to those substances. The antigens used to treat the warts do not cause or promote skin infection.


“This large trial further demonstrates the effectiveness and safety of the immunotherapy treatment for common warts,” Horn said. “This immunotherapy has also shown the unique ability to be effective against non-treated or distant warts and may prove particularly useful in treating patients with numerous lesions or lesions spread over large portions of the body.”


The trial involved 201 patients, 95 of whom received injections with an antigen preparation of mumps, Candida (a yeast organism) or Trichophyton (a fungal organism) while 106 received injections of either saline or a molecule produced by the immune system (interferon alfa-2B).


The treatment was successful in 57 patients injected with antigen, including 21 who had more than one wart, according to the study. Thirty-five of the 72 patients in the study with multiple warts responded successfully to the antigen treatment.


The researchers also found that patients who responded to the treatment were much more likely to have an immune response to the human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of skin warts. Horn said this response, through stimulation of the HPV-directed immunity, may lead to fewer recurrent warts in patients.


Warts are skin lesions that often are tender or painful. Wart treatment has customarily involved destruction of the wart using one of several methods, including cutting it out, freezing it with liquid nitrogen or laser vaporization.


Because wart proliferation is controlled by the immune system, various methods have been used to stimulate the immunologic response to the HPV.


Horn and Johnson began experimenting with immunotherapy on common warts in 1999. The two have patented the treatment and are involved in setting up Type IV Technologies, LLC, a start-up company in the UAMS Biomedical Biotechnology Center. The company was created to ultimately market a product based on the antigen treatment.


Joining Horn and Johnson in the latest study were Ricki M. Helm, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology in the UAMS College of Medicine, and Paula K. Roberson, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Biostatistics in the UAMS College of Medicine and the UAMS College of Public Health.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.