Zombie mushroom that kills insects could help fight cancer, recent study finds

Zombified mushrooms have led scientists to what could be a first-time lab breakthrough in cancer-healing qualities.

Previous research delving into that of the cordyceps fungus, which kills insects and sprouts from their bodies, has found it can help kill cancer cells.

But the rarity of the mushroom itself in the wild and further difficulties in the cultivation of said mushrooms means experts have never quite managed to bulk test the zombie mushrooms on patients.

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A team from Korea and Egypt has since figured out how to grow the elusive fungi and are now hosting the mushroom in various insects in a controlled setting.

Research teams working away in the lab hope by cultivating the zombie fungus in the same way it is grown in the wild that they can produce the compound that would be used in cancer treatments.

That compound, cordycepin, is said to be more effective in such treatments and scientists may have found a way to consistently grow their own.

Running down how the fungus works, it would appear it is capable of invading and infecting the host cells, killing off the muscle and spreading.

In insects, this is fatal, but in cancer research, experts are hopeful the capabilities of the fungus will be used as a way of killing off cancer cells.

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A study from 2005 showed the application of cordycepin on cancerous cells inhibited the growth and development of cancer cells, slowing the spread of the disease.

Another study from 2013 has shown that cordyceps had blocked the growth of prostate carcinoma cells, a cancer specific to the tissue of organ walls.

Dr Mi Kyeong Lee said: "Cordycepin is one of the cytotoxic nucleoside analogs with complementary therapeutic activities in anti-proliferation and anti-metastasis in cancer cells."

A team from both Chungbuk National University in Korea and Minia Univeristy in Egypt are working on new research, Daily Mail reported.

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