Washington, Oct 12: Researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University have found that a poisonous Chinese mushroom may boost the effectiveness of some cancer drugs.
According to Dr. Kebin Liu, cancer immunologist and corresponding author of the study, the compound, verticillin A, derived from the forest mushroom sensitizes cancer cells to another drug that induces cancer cells to destroy themselves.
The compound appears to keep cancer cells from developing resistance to TRAIL, short for tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand.
The researchers found that verticillin A alone was adequate to kill cancer cells in mice, but the required dose made the mice sick, a common problem with many cancer therapies.
However, when a lower dose was paired with TRAIL, it became a powerful, more tolerable recipe that killed previously resistant cells.
They also found that the compound improved the efficacy of commonly used cancer drugs etoposide and cisplatin, which also work by promoting cancer cell death but are less targeted than TRAIL.
“We believe this could be a good companion drug for a lot of cancer therapies,” said Liu.
One way verticillin A appears to work is by upregulating BN1P3, a gene that promotes cell death, the researchers said.
Cancer cells work to silence BN1P3 through a process called DNA methylation; verticillin A appears to modify the same process to turn the gene on.
Their studies were of metastatic human colon cancer cells, which are highly resistant to treatment, including TRAIL, both in culture as well as transplanted into mice. They did similar studies on sarcoma, lung adenocarcinoma and breast cancer.
The researchers, however, cautioned that additional toxicity studies were needed before moving forward with clinical trials.
The study appears in the journal Cancer Research. (ANI)