Death Cap Mushroom May Offer Hope for Deadly Pancreatic Cancer

A study just released by the Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center brings surprisingly good news about the death cap mushroom, which is best known in the U.S. for causing most cases of fatal mushroom poisonings. Apparently, however, this highly dangerous mushroom may offer real hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly and difficult to treat of all cancers.

This year alone, the National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 43,920 new cases of pancreatic cancer and 37,390 deaths.

In this promising new study, immunologist Dr. Gerhard Moldenhauer and biochemist Professor Dr. Heinz Faulstich developed a method for destroying cancer cells using a dreaded fungal toxin from the death cap mushroom…without harming the body.

How the Deadliest Toxin in Nature Can Also Heal

Though it looks strikingly similar to the common white button mushroom, the death cap mushroom contains one of the deadliest toxins in nature, α-amanitin. This substance literally kills any cell it comes in contact with, healthy or cancerous.

So in order to safely kill cancer cells, the toxin must be delivered directly and only to the target by another “carrier” substance…one that can distinguish cancerous cells from healthy ones.death cap mushroom

It looks like these researchers have done just that, by linking the fungal toxin to a “carrier” antibody that attaches only to cancer-typical cell surfaces. Together, the toxin and carrier are known as a “toxin-conjugated antibody.”

Like a Guided Missile

The results of the German Cancer Research Center study were extremely positive, as reported in Science Daily:

Like a guided missile, the antibody carries its poisonous load to target cancer cells. The poison-loaded antibody arrested the growth of various types of cancer cells in the culture dish and even caused the complete disappearance of transplanted pancreatic tumors in experimental mice.

In the culture dish, the poison-loaded antibody arrested the growth of pancreatic, colorectal, breast and bile duct cancer cell lines. In mice bearing transplanted human pancreatic cancer, a single antibody injection was sufficient to inhibit tumor growth. Two injections of higher doses of the antibody even caused complete tumor regression in 90% of the animals. Even the higher doses did not cause any poison-related damage to the liver or other organs of the animals.

The Delicate Balance: Killing Cancer Cells Without Harming Healthy Cells

“When developing toxin-conjugated antibodies you have to take an awful lot of things into account,” lead researcher Gerhard Moldenhauer explains. “[It] is absolutely vital that [the poison] does not get lost while it is being carried through the body, because this could cause severe adverse side effects.”

However, the results obtained in mice give reason to be optimistic. “Even at high doses we have not detected any organ damage in the animals. We therefore expect that there is a sufficient therapeutic window for a dosage that kills cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unaffected,” said Moldenhauer.

Moldenhauer is already making plans to further his work with death cap mushroom. He intends to develop other “amanitin-conjugated guided missiles” against other cancers, especially certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.