A study conducted by a group of researchers from the Louisiana State University School of Public Health and Medicine, led by professor of biostatistics Hui-Yi Lin, has discovered that sufficient levels of five antioxidants may decrease infection with the human papilloma virus (“HPV”) strains that are linked to the development of cervical cancer.
Their research was reported in the “Journal of Infectious Diseases.”
While prior studies had proposed that the onset of HPV associated with cancer development could be triggered by oxidative stress, the link between the two had not been made clear. This research assessed the link between vaginal HPV infection status — high-, low- and no-risk HPV — and 15 antioxidants in more than 11,000 women between the ages of 18 and 59 who had taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2016.
The group’s findings demonstrated that four dietary antioxidants, namely folate and vitamins E, B2 and A, as well as lower levels of serum albumin, were linked to a high risk of HR-HPV infection (high-risk HPV). The researchers also found that reduced serum albumin was linked to an impaired immune response and a rise in systemic inflammation. Albumin is the most abundant circulating protein in plasma. The researchers also came up with a nutritional antioxidant score, which was based off of the four dietary antioxidants.
Lin, the lead author of the study, noted that after the researchers had adjusted for several factors, including the number of sexual partners in the last year, alcohol, smoking, race and age, their findings demonstrated that in comparison with women who were in the highest quartile of the nutritional antioxidant score, women who were in the lowest quartile had an increased chance of contracting both low-risk and high-risk HPV infections.
The human papilloma virus is a known risk factor for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer that presents in women. Data has shown that in 2018, this cancer type caused 7.5% of total number of cancer deaths in women globally.
It is common knowledge that some HPV strains are more likely to set off precursor events that lead to the development of cancer. These strains are usually referred to as high-risk or oncogenic HPV strains. Nearly all cervical cancers are directly associated with prior infection with one or more high-risk HPV infections.
Lin remarked that presently, no efficacious antiviral therapy exists that can eliminate a genital HPV infection. Despite this, he added, it was crucial to determine modifiable factors, such as the antioxidants, that are linked to high-risk HPV infection because this will help prevent the onset of HPV carcinogenesis.
One shouldn’t be surprised if these research findings are used to develop products that people can take to lower their risk of developing high-risk HPV infections. However, as clinical stage bipharma companies such as AzurRx BioPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX) know, a lot of time and resources have to be invested before a potential therapy or intervention moves from the lab to being commercially available after obtaining FDA approval.
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