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Leukemia Treatment Findings in Mushroom Protein

October 19, 2017
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New research suggests mushroom protein could be used to kill leukemia cells.

Also called “lawyer’s wig” or "shaggy ink cap," Coprinus comatus is an edible mushroom typically found in North America and Europe. It grows in meadows and grasslands but may also be found along roads or on lawns in residential areas. When mature, the mushroom has a white shaggy appearance, but once picked, it begins to decay and “dissolve” into a black inky lump, giving way to its common name. This mushroom is known for its antioxidant and antimicrobial capabilities and has also been linked to potential treatments for HIV, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. Findings that were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveal further reaching potential for Coprinus comatus for killing leukemia T cells. This discovery could have meaningful implications for T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer that is exceptionally aggressive and responsible for almost 25 percent of acute lymphoblastic leukemias.


Yousong Ding and his team of researchers at the University of Florida Gainesville looked at how Y3, a protein found in the mushroom, binds with the LDNF glycan, a sugar molecule found in parasites. Y3 was studied because it is a glycan binding protein (GBP). According to researchers, GBP proteins are significant because they “recognize specific glycans to translate their structures to functions in various physiological and pathological processes." During their research, the binding of Y3 with LDNF glycan activated a cell-signaling cascade capable of programming a leukemia T cell to self-destruct. Using model leukemia cells, the scientists found that the enzymes triggered by this contact caused the death of over 90 percent of the leukemia T cells.

These interactions could be significant to provide potential targets for therapeutic intervention of many diseases.

What's Next

Ding reveals that he and his colleagues may advance their testing of Coprinus comatus Y3 proteins to diseased cells in animal models within the year. Their hope is that this and similar studies could lead to new, more efficient treatments for leukemia and other diseases. This story initially appeared in Medical News Today.
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