UT researchers find fungus with cancer-fighting properties

UT researchers find fungus with potential cancer-fighting properties

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Arthrobotrys oligospora, the fungus researchers believe could lead to new cancer treatments. (Source: University of Tennessee) Arthrobotrys oligospora, the fungus researchers believe could lead to new cancer treatments. (Source: University of Tennessee)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Researchers at the University of Tennessee have found a species of fungus that could potentially lead to new cancer-fighting technologies.

Arthrobotrys oligospora is a type of fungus that eats roundworms and secretes small particles that have shown to be important in cancer therapies.

The discovery was made by a team led by Mingjun Zhang, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Tennessee.

Zhang and his team have discovered that the nanoparticles produced by the fungus hold promise for stimulating the immune system and killing tumors.

The findings are published in this month's edition of Advanced Functional Materials.

"Naturally occurring nanoparticles have drawn increasing interest from scientific communities for their biocompatibility," said Zhang. "Their small size allows them to easily cross cell membranes, an essential requirement for cancer therapy."

The researchers investigated the fungal nanoparticles' potential as a stimulant for the immune system and found that the nanoparticles activate secretion of an immune-system stimulant within a white blood cell line.

They also investigated the nanoparticles' potential as an antitumor agent by testing the toxicity to cells using two tumor cell lines and discovered nanoparticles do kill cancer cells.

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