Breast milk
Breast milk cancer drug destroys diseased cells leaving healthy ones alive (Reuters)

A drug derived from human breast milk that destroyed cancer cells in studies is to be tested in a pre-clinical trial.

Researchers say their drug is almost "ready to go" and just needs to go through the final tests, the Siberian Times reports.

Valentin Vlasov, of the Siberian Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, explained that the drug was created following a number of studies on lactaptin, a protein found in breast milk.

He said: "Two medications are going through the pre-clinical trial now. During the analyses of the milk proteins we detected one very specific one, a tiny peptide that affected cancer cells. It destroyed cancer cells and left the healthy ones alive."

The drug was created based on the milk but its genetic construction was reconstituted to have stronger anti-cancer characteristics. Tests on mice showed the drug was particularly effective on lung and liver cancers.

It was also found to cure encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain.

"We have a protein, an antibody that deactivates the virus. This is almost a ready-to-go medication. It just needs to go through all the tests now," Vlasov said.

Tests also showed that lactaptin was able to destroy cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged.

Protects babies

Breast milk has been found to have cancer-fighting properties in the past. In 2010, researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg found that breast milk could be used to treat bladder cancer patients.

Scientists found people with the disease released dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment.

Experiments showed the substance in breast milk, known as Hamlet (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells) could be used to kill 40 different types of cancer.

Roger Karlsson, from the University of Gothenburg, said the substance was discovered by accident. He told The Telegraph: "

"Hamlet is produced by combining alpha-lactalbumin in the milk and oleic acid which is found in babies' stomachs. So breast feeding has been linked to actually reducing the risk of cancer in babies.

"They were actually looking for antibiotic powers in breast milk when they came across Hamlet and found in one of their tests that it killed cancer cells."