Mushroom compound boosts cancer drug

Washington: A compound from a wild, poisonous mushroom growing in the southwestern China`s forests, imparts greater punch to a cancer-busting drug, new research shows.

The compound, verticillin A, sensitizes cancer cells to TRAIL, a drug, causing cancer cells to self-destruct, said Kebin Liu, cancer immunologist at the Georgia Health Sciences University Cancer Centre and study co-author.

The compound pre-empts cancer cells from developing resistance to TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand), reports the journal Cancer Research.

Drug resistance, intrinsic or acquired, is a major problem for cancer patients, accounting for more than 90 percent of treatment failures. "If we can make drugs work again, more people will survive," Liu said, according to a Georgia Health statement.

"It looks as though most cancer cells have found a way to become resistant and evade its action," said Wendy Bollag, cell physiologist and Liu`s counterpart in the study. Tenacious cancer cells are also naturally resistant to cell suicide, which is how TRAIL works.

In mice, they found verticillin A alone was adequate to kill cancer cells, 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.

IANS

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