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A cure for "Treeman"?

Doctors believe Dede Kosawa's unusual appearance occurred because of a immune defect and HPV.

For the past 20 years, this Indonesian fisherman has had to live with unexplained grouwths all over his body. His hands looked like brown branches extending 3 feet. He was unable to perform daily activities like to clamp his hands into a fist or pick up a fork. He became known as the Treeman after he made his living by performing in carnivals in rural Indonesia.

Doctors now believe that his unusual appearance occurred because of a immune defect and HPV.Click to view previous image

According to reports, his growths encrusting his arms accounted for nearly 12 pounds of his 100-pound body. He often became exhausted after taking a few steps because of the dense warts on his feet.

"He was getting infected," said Gaspari, chief of dermatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. "He had insects living in the base of the wood-like material."

Doctors believe that Kosawa's case was a perfect storm, created by a genetically inherited immune defect and a type of human papillomavirus, or HPV. The man told doctors that the warts started appearing after getting a cut in his skin as a teenager. Because he has a deficiency of white blood cells, which are crucial in fighting infections, his weakened immune system couldn't fight the HPV. The virus hijacked his skin cells, causing it to produce massive amounts of keratin, a protein found in hair and fingernails. The warts sprouted into dense growths known medically as "cutaneous horns" on his hands and feet.

After several surgeries, he has been able to walk, lift a fork and write. The warts have been reappearing, but he is receiving chemotherapy to stop the virus.

For more information, check out the Discovery Channel

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