The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tree man who grew ‘roots’ may be cured

An Indonesian man whose body is covered with extraordinary tree-like growths has spoken of his hope that an American doctor will cure his unique condition and help him rebuild his family life.

Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty “roots” began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident. Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been unable to look after his two children Entang and Utis, who are now aged 16 and 18. They have been brought up apart from their father by his extended family on the other side of their remote village south of the capital Jakarta.

With Dede’s condition considered life threatening, he had resigned himself to missing out on the remaining joys of fatherhood.

But now a dermatology expert who flew out from the US to examine his rare condition says that a course of synthetic Vitamin A should clear up most of the warts, and Dede is contemplating a transformed life. “I can’t work, I can’t provide money,” Dede said.

“I want to be able to take care of them [his children]. I hope to live long enough to see my grandchildren.”

After testing samples of the lesions and Dede’s blood, Dr Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually causes small warts to develop on sufferers.

Dede’s problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.

The virus was, therefore, able to “hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells”, ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as “cutaneous horns” on his hands and feet.

Dede’s counts of a key type of white blood cell are so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus. But tests showed he did not, and it became clear that Dede’s immune condition was something far rarer and more mysterious.

Warts aside, he had enjoyed remarkable good health throughout his life — which would not be expected of someone with a suppressed immune system — and neither his parents nor his siblings have shown signs of developing lesions.

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