Novel use for African mushroom found in cancer research

Dec 21, 2011 By Wilfred Lai
Credit: PolyU

A young scientist from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)'s Food Safety and Technology Research Centre (FSTRC) has successfully prepared highly stable selenium nanoparticles by using the polysaccharide-protein complex extracted from the African Tiger Milk mushroom.

The preliminary study discovered that these stabilized selenium nanoparticles can significantly inhibit the growth of cells by .

With this breakthrough, FSTRC Associate Director Dr Wong Ka-hing, who is also an Assistant Professor of PolyU's Department of Applied Biology and , has won the Young in the 2011 International Conference of Food Factors (ICoFF 2011) with the theme "Food for Wellbeing-from Function to Processing".

Selenium is a trace element which is essential for . The study of selenium nanoparticles has become a hot topic because of their excellent bio-availability, low toxicity and strong anti-cancer activity. However, nanoparticles would easily stick together, and their special properties would be lost once the aggregates exceed nano-size. That is why scientists around the world have been exploring ways to stabilize the nanoparticles.

Dr. Wong's award-winning study is entitled "Preparation of Highly Stable Selenium Nanoparticles with Anti-Cancer Activity under a Food Grade Redox System" – which means the ultimate products could be consumed as functional food or health products. The study is the first of its kind in terms of preparing highly stable selenium nanoparticles with the use of mushroom polysaccharide-protein complexes as the stabilizers. Apart from its potential as functional foods, the finding has also provided insights on using these novel nanoparticles as new drug for cancer chemoprevention.

In the next stage of cancer research, Dr. Wong would evaluate the anti-cancer activity of those stabilized selenium on small animals, and elucidate the underlying mechanism of their growth inhibition effects on the .

The polysaccharide-protein complex currently in use is extracted from the sclerotium of Tiger Milk mushroom. Dr. Wong would also further investigate whether its other developmental stages (e.g. fruiting body) could be used for this cancer research. PolyU has partnered with a mushroom farm to produce Tiger Milk mushrooms and support further research.

The ICoFF at which Dr. Wong received his award was organized by the Association of Agricultural Chemists (AOAC) International (Taiwan Section). This year more than 1,300 participants from 30 countries have attended the event, during which numerous international renowned scholars and experts were invited to give lectures on health promotion, diseases prevention and other health issues related to food.

Explore further: 'Human touch' nanoparticle sensor could improve breast cancer detection

Provided by Hong Kong Polytechnic University

4.3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Taking additional selenium will not reduce cancer risk

May 11, 2011

Although some people believe that taking selenium can reduce a person's risk of cancer, a Cochrane Systematic Review of randomised controlled clinical trials found no protective effect against non-melanoma skin cancer or ...

Selenium may prevent high risk-bladder cancer

Dec 08, 2008

A study published in the December issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggests that selenium, a trace mineral found in grains, nuts and meats, may aid in the pr ...

Safety of nanoparticles in food crops is still unclear

Jun 01, 2011

With the curtain about to rise on a much-anticipated new era of "nanoagriculture" — using nanotechnology to boost the productivity of plants for food, fuel, and other uses —scientists are reporting a huge gap in ...

Recommended for you

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

34 minutes ago

Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking ...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

2 hours ago

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

The future face of molecular electronics

2 hours ago

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices, ...

User comments : 0