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Danish mushroom inspires cancer researchers
Date:12/8/2011

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have explored the active principles of a Danish mushroom and found that some of the substances it contains are particularly toxic towards cancer cells. The goal is to synthesise and refine substances in the mushroom that may be useful in future drug development.

Asia has a long and proud tradition of using folk medicines based on natural products. Many substances found in fungi are today registered as drugs to support chemotherapy treatments for cancer among others, the mushroom Lentinula edodes (commonly known as Shiitake), which is the primary ingredient in a registered drug extract on the Japanese market.

"Dr. Ming Chen, a ChineseDanish physician and specialist in Chinese folk medicine, has discovered a Danish mushroom which contains toxins that are especially effective against cancer cells. 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 Sren Brgger Christensen, Professor of Natural Products Research at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

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

Traditional medicines derived from natural products are often based on the experiences of several generations of shamans. Consequently these inherited experiences are eminent sources of information in the hunt for new active ingredients with potential for drug development. In Denmark, mushrooms have primarily been used in food preparation, while some species have been used as intoxicants. However, they have been largely absent within Danish folk medicine.

This lack of folk knowledge led Dr. Chen, a senior physician at Snderborg Hospital, to begin screening poisonous Danish mushrooms. After an in
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Contact: Professor Sren Brgger Christensen
sbc@farma.ku.dk
01-145-453-533-6253
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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