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Extracts from mushrooms used for centuries in ancient Eastern medicine may stop the growth of breast cancer cells, research has suggested.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found extracts of Phellinus linteus can slow the growth of different types of cancer cells and improve the effects of anticancer drugs.
Scientists looking at the effects of Phellinus linteus extracts on breast cancer cells in the lab now also believe they understand how its anti-cancer properties work.
Researchers based at the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis, USA, think the mushroom could stop an enzyme called AKT from working. This enzyme is known to control signals that lead to cell growth and the development of new blood vessels, which are vital for cancer cell survival.
Lead researcher, Dr Daniel Sliva, said: “We saw a number of positive results from our investigation on aggressive human breast cancer cells, including a lower rate of uncontrolled growth of new cancer cells, suppression of their aggressive behaviour and the formation of fewer blood vessels that feed cancer cells essential nutrients.”
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK which owns the British Journal of Cancer, said: “We’re excited that we can begin to explain how this ancient medicine works by acting on specific molecules. We hope our study will encourage more researchers to explore the use of medicinal mushrooms for the treatment of cancer.”
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