Empirical approaches to discover anticancer drugs and cancer treatments have made limited progress in the past several decades in finding a cure for cancer. The expanded knowledge of the molecular basis of tumorigenesis and metastasis, together with the inherently vast structural diversity of natural compounds found in mushrooms, provided unique opportunities for discovering new drugs that rationally target the abnormal molecular and biochemical signals leading to cancer. This review focuses on mushroom low-molecular-weight secondary metabolites targeting processes such as apoptosis, angiogenesis, metastasis, cell cycle regulation, and signal transduction cascades. Also discussed in this review are high-molecular-weight polysaccharides or polysaccharide-protein complexes from mushrooms that appear to enhance innate and cell-mediated immune responses, exhibit antitumor activities in animals and humans, and demonstrate the anticancer properties of selenium compounds accumulated in mushrooms.
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Acknowledgements We thank Prof. N. Ohno (Japan) for critical reading of the manuscript, and R. Permut for English editing. This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel, grant No. 3-0561.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology