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Danish mushroom kills cancer cells

Active ingredients in a poisonous mushroom found in Denmark are also toxic to cancer cells, according to research at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The exact species is being withheld, scientist explains to University Post

The active principle in a mushroom found in Denmark is particularly poisonous to cancer cells. This is according to research at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, as reported by and other health science media.

It was Dr. Ming Chen, a Chinese–Danish physician at Sønderborg hospital and specialist in Chinese folk medicine, who made the first discovery. Now scientists at the faculty hope to synthesise and refine substances in the mushroom for future drug development.

»The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences has investigated the mushroom’s chemistry and, based on the substances isolated from it, we are developing a refined chemical compound that is even more effective and selective,« says Søren Brøgger Christensen, Professor of Natural Products Research at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Patent being applied for

He explains to the University Post that the exact type of mushroom is being withheld due to an ongoing patent application process.

»We don’t want to exclude ourselves from any possibilities of gaining patent beforehand,« he says.

The project has received DKK 2.6 million in financial support from Protech Investment Ltd – a spin-off from a large Chinese producer of natural medicines.

Chinese exchange student did the isolating

Many substances found in fungi are registered as drugs to support chemotherapy treatments for cancer, reports.

Among others, the mushroom Lentinula edodes, commonly known as Shiitake, is the primary ingredient in a registered drug extract on the Japanese market.

In Denmark, mushrooms have primarily been used in food preparation, while some species have been used as intoxicants.

Long time before a drug

At the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, it was exchange student Xuemei Liu, also from China, who isolated the active principles.

»This is a completely new class of natural compounds, which makes the research results unique,« explains Christensen, who has been collaborating with Chen since 1990.

He emphasises that, as with all new drugs, using the results to develop a viable product will be a long, difficult process.

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