Medicinal mushrooms and breast cancer
Sullivan, Richard Section of Research Oncology, King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre, Guy’s Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
- Medicinal mushrooms in diet and as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals
- Application in breast cancer of biological response modifiers from medicinal mushrooms
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The fungus kingdom contains an estimated 1.5 million species, of which fewer than 5% have been classified. These species have provided antibiotics (penicillin), immunosuppressants (cyclosporins), and anticholesterol drugs (statins). However, the exploration of the fungal kingdom for pharmaceutically active compounds, whether for cancer or other diseases, lags behind the efforts dedicated to the plant kingdom and the marine environment. As the complexities of biostimulants derived from medical mushrooms are unraveled, there has been increasing interest in their application within cancer therapy. This nascent field, led by the early pharmaceuticalization of these compounds in East Asia, is broad and complex. Major issues of quality and reproducibility remain, especially in terms of manufacturing for preclinical and clinical studies. However, recent advances in fermentation technology in controlling the production of the complex proteoglycans and branching polysaccharides that are involved, as well as better controlled preclinical studies, have opened up this area to renewed interest. Breast cancer remains one of the most critical cancers, affecting populations in developed, and increasingly in developing, countries. Although major gains have been made in cure and control, particularly in early presentation, metastatic disease has remained a critical cause of mortality. The use of biostimulants, including those derived from medicinal mushrooms, in conjunction with current regimens, has strong potential for improving outcomes in this common cancer.
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