Human 'Treeman'
Extremely Rare Autosomal Recessive Genetic Hereditary Skin Disorder

Human 'Treeman' begs for help as he turns into a Tree
Extremely Rare Autosomal Recessive Genetic Hereditary Skin Disorder

An Indonesian man (Dede) who suffers from a rare disease which causes tree-like growths all over his body is seeking help from American medics.

Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (also called Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia or Lutz-Lewandowsky epidermodysplasia verruciformis) is an extremely rare autosomal recessive genetic hereditary skin disorder associated with a high risk of carcinoma of the skin.

It is characterized by abnormal susceptibility to human papillomaviruses (HPVs) of the skin.

The resulting uncontrolled HPV infections result in the growth of scaly macules and papules, particularly on the hands and feet.

It is typically associated with HPV types 5 and 8, which are found in about 80% of the normal population as asymptomatic infections, although other types may also contribute.

The condition usually has an onset of between the ages of 1–20, but can occasionally present in middle-age. It is named after the physicians who first documented it, Felix Lewandowsky and Wilhelm Lutz.

The cause of the condition is an inactivating mutation in either the EVER1 or EVER2 genes, which are located adjacent to one another on chromosome 17.

The precise function of these genes is not yet fully understood, but they play a role in regulating the distribution of zinc in the cell nucleus.

It has been shown that zinc is a necessary cofactor for many viral proteins, and that the activity of EVER1/EVER2 complex appears to restrict the access of viral proteins to cellular zinc stores, limiting their growth.

A totally effective treatment method against EV has not yet been found.

On August 26th, 2008, Dede returned home following surgery to remove 6 kg (13 lb) of warts from his body. The surgery consisted of three steps:
  • Removal of the thick carpet of warts and massive horns on his hand.
  • Removal of the smaller warts on his head, torso, and feet.
  • Covering of the hands with grafted skin. 
In all, 95% of the warts were removed. The surgery was documented by the Discovery Channel and TLC in the episode "Treeman: Search for the Cure."  However, his warts have returned and it appears he will need two surgeries a year for the rest of his life to keep them at bay.