04.01.2019 change 04.01.2019

Scientists want to patent the use of fungus from the Białowieża Forest in combating cancer

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Researchers from the Medical University of Bialystok and the Bialystok University of Technology, who researched the application of fungi found in the Białowieża Forest in the treatment of cancer, filed a patent application concerning the use of Heterobasidion annosum in combating colorectal cancer.

The researchers announced the creation of a bank of extracts of over 150 fungi found in the Białowieża Forest and joint research in the beginning of 2018. The bank of fungal extracts is located in the Science and Research Centre of the Faculty of Forestry of the Bialystok University of Technology in Hajnówka, and the research concerns fungi growing on dead wood or live trees.

As part of their research, scientists from the Medical University of Bialystok studied the properties of Heterobasidion annosum. "The patent application concerns the new use of this fungus that allows to inhibit the development of colorectal cancer cells" - says Prof. Halina Car, head Experimental Pharmacology Department of the Medical University of Bialystok.

According to Car, this fungus is common in the European climate, and very common in the Białowieża Forest. Heterobasidion annosum causes white rot of wood that destroys pine forests.

Already during the research on this fungus, Car emphasized that it had "spectacular results". The properties of Heterobasidion annosum were first tested on physiological cells and colon cancer cells grown in a lab, and then on laboratory mice.

"Our research carried out on cell lines showed that cancer cells died in comparison to those that did not receive the fungus extract" - said Car. She also emphasised that only small, virtually irrelevant toxic changes affected healthy cells. "This is very important, because anti-cancer drugs usually also destroy healthy cells and are very toxic. The idea was to find a less toxic alternative" - the professor said.

In her opinion, obtaining a patent "is a very long procedure". "We filed an application this year, we expect confirmation at the earliest in five years" - said Car.

Currently, four drugs based on fungal compounds with anticancer potential are registered in the world.

PAP - Science in Poland, Sylwia Wieczeryńska, Iza Próchnicka

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