Even older than our interest in medical technology, some of the editors of this publication have been amateur mycologists scouring the world’s forests for the prized King Boletes or the ever elusive Morelles. To our excitement, scientists from the University of Haifa, Israel are using extract from the Reishi mushroom to slow the progression of prostate cancer.
Existing drugs, such as Flutamide, also work by interfering with the action of androgen receptors. But the mushroom extract molecules, said Zaidman, had a far more dramatic effect.
“The extracts worked in a different way. We think they actually prevented androgen receptors from binding to the DNA,” he told ISRAEL21c.
The reishi, a fungus native to densely wooded areas in North America, Europe and Asia has been used in traditional medicines for centuries – and is currently experiencing renewed popularity among the health-conscious, popping up on the shelves of health food stores and organic supermarkets around the world.
“Recently, mushroom extracts of every kind have become available,” notes Zaidman. “But the preparations are water soluble and very weak. You’d have to eat a lot of mushroom soup to get any kind of effect,” he laughed.
Eschewing the kitchen in favor of the laboratory, his team has spent the last three years cooking up active metabolites using alcohol-based solvents. They will now seek to pinpoint the precise relationship between the chemical structures and their cell-based activity, refining the crude extracts into isolated molecules.