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Could a MMR vaccine injected into warts banish unsightly skin growths?

Could a measles mumps and rubella vaccine injected into warts be the answer to banishing unsightly skin growths for good?

  • The new treatment involves injecting the (MMR) vaccine into warts with 4 doses
  • Prove to be a more convenient alternative to over-the-counter wart treatments
  • At least one in ten people develops warts at some point – rough growths on body

A radical new treatment that involves injecting the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine into warts could banish the unsightly skin growths for good.

New research suggests 70 per cent of warts completely disappeared within a few weeks of patients receiving four doses of the vaccine. The unlikely remedy could prove to be a more convenient alternative to over-the-counter wart treatments, which have to be applied daily and can take several months to work.

Injecting the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine into warts could banish the unsightly skin growths for good (file image) 

Military medicine

The medical breakthroughs that began on the battlefield. This week: EpiPen

Millions of people round the world carry a device called an EpiPen — or similar products — to treat allergic reactions to certain foods, insect bites, medicines or even latex.

Each contains a vital dose of the hormone adrenaline, which rapidly dampens down the potentially fatal immune reaction, giving the patient time to get to hospital.

But the EpiPen started life very differently.

In the early Seventies during the Cold War, the U.S. military had been looking for a quick way for agents to inject an antidote to nerve gas in the event of an attack.

Biomechanical engineer Sheldon Kaplan invented a pen-like gadget that did the job. Later, he adapted it to be filled with adrenaline for those with severe allergies — saving countless lives.

At least one in ten people develops warts at some point. These rough growths, usually on the hands or feet, occur when keratinocytes — cells that make up about 90 per cent of the outer layer of skin — become infected with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). These are different, weaker strains of HPV to those that cause cervical cancer and which teenagers are immunised against in the UK.

While warts are not deadly, they can become itchy, painful and embarrassing. They can also be spread by skin-to-skin contact and can bleed, making it easier for the virus to spread to other parts of the body.

Over-the-counter products can help, including creams with salicylic acid, which slowly burns away the infected tissue. While it can be effective, the products have to be used carefully as the salicylic acid can cause blistering of healthy surrounding skin.

Cryotherapy involves liquid nitrogen sprayed on the wart, freezing the infected tissue, so it falls off after a few weeks. But this can require several treatments, spaced three to four weeks apart, and can leave a scar.

Over-the-counter products can help, including creams with salicylic acid, which slowly burns away the infected tissue (file image) 

Several studies in recent years have looked at whether injecting warts with the MMR vaccine could get rid of them.

The latest, published in Dermatologic Therapy, looked at 40 patients with large warts who had not used current treatments.

The warts were injected with four 0.5ml doses of the MMR vaccine (the same dose given to infants as part of the UK’s childhood immunisation programme), one every two weeks.

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The researchers, from Assiut University in Egypt, found treated warts disappeared completely within a few weeks of the course of jabs ending and did not return.

The findings mirrored those of a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, which found 41 out of 70 patients with warts saw a complete clearance with the MMR jab. Another 15 had a partial response — the warts shrunk but did not vanish — and nine saw no improvement.

The theory behind the three-in-one jab’s success is that because it is targeted into the wart (rather than round the bloodstream, as with normal vaccination), the jab fires up the immune system to destroy the virus causing the growth, even though it’s a completely different virus to the ones the injection usually targets.

Professor John Doorbar, an expert in viral diseases at the University of Cambridge, said it is scientifically plausible: ‘It probably recruits immune cells to the area — in this case the wart — where the MMR vaccine has been injected. But it is hard to see that it would be superior to freezing.’

Tablet time

The best time to take your medication. This week: Aspirin

Many of us take aspirin every day to keep blood thin and cut the risk of potentially deadly clots forming which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Research suggests the best time to take aspirin is in the evening because this ensures it has had time to work before morning — when there is a surge in platelet activity, tiny cells in the blood that make it clot.

A 2013 study at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands asked 290 heart attack survivors to take a low-dose aspirin every morning for three months, and then before bedtime for another three months.

At the end of each period, they underwent tests on their blood pressure and platelets.

Results showed that daily aspirin did not cut blood pressure, but taking the drug at bedtime did make it more difficult for the platelets to stick together in the morning.

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