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  • Ivan Bristow

Microwave treatment of warts - the first published study

I was pleased to learn that our first clinical study into the use of microwaves have now been published. The study was conducted on 32 adults with 52 recalcitrant warts. The study, which was a first look at its potential effectiveness produced a response of just under 76%. In addition, to help explain this we looked at the effects of microwave heating in the laboratory and found, even at low levels, microwave heating of the skin was able to induce measurable immune function enhancements.


Human papilloma virus (HPV) infects keratinocytes of the skin and mucous membranes, and is associated with the induction of cutaneous warts and malignancy. Warts can induce significant morbidity and disability but most therapies, including cryotherapy, laser, and radiofrequency devices show low efficacy and induce discomfort through tissue destruction. Microwaves are readily capable of passing through highly keratinised skin to deliver energy and induce heating of the tissue in a highly controllable, uniform manner. Objectives: To determine the effects of microwave on cutaneous HPV infection. Materials & methods: We undertook a pilot study of microwave therapy to the skin in 32 consecutive individuals with 52 recalcitrant long-lived viral cutaneous warts. Additionally, we undertook a molecular characterisation of the effects of microwaves on the skin. Results: Tissue inflammation was minimal, but 75.9% of lesions cleared which compares favourably with previous studies showing a clearance rate of 23-33% for cryotherapy or salicylic acid. We show that microwaves specifically induce dendritic cell cross-presentation of HPV antigen to CD8+ T cells and suggest that IL-6 may be important for DC IRF1 and IRF4 modulation to enhance this process. Conclusion: Keratinocyte-skin dendritic cell cross-talk is integral to host defence against HPV infections, and this pilot study supports the concept of microwave induction of anti-HPV immunity which offers a promising approach for treatment of HPV-induced viral warts and potentially HPV-related cancers.


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