Pandey lab membersA team of researchers led by professor Siyaram Pandey (centre) is investigating the anti-cancer properties of maitake mushrooms.

Researchers to explore anti-cancer potential of mushrooms

A UWindsor research team is partnering with the Shogun Maitake Canada company to investigate the anti-cancer properties of mushrooms.

Led by chemistry and biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey, the team received a two-year $60,000 Mitacs-Accelerate grant for their project, “Evaluation of anticancer activity of Shogun black maitake mushroom extract and its interaction with chemotherapeutic drugs in in vitro and in vivo models of human cancers.”

“We are extremely excited to work with Shogun Maitake Canada on black maitake mushroom extract for its anti-cancer potential,” says Dr. Pandey.

“It could be a safe and very effective natural product that can accelerate cancer remission and reduce toxic side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. We are hoping that our research results will lead to supplemental clinical trials and benefit cancer patients soon.”

Graduate student Hannah Drew (BSc 2023) is the student lead on the project. Drew says the Shogun black maitake mushroom extract will be tested against prostate, breast, pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer cells.

“The formulation of the extract is ready to go,” says Drew.

“In the first year we’ll be working with highly sensitive machinery to test for measurement of early and late apoptosis induction, or cell death, to visually see which cells are expressing it.”

Shogun Maitake Canada is the brainchild of Yoshinobu Odaira. Familiar with the tradition in Japan and with deep understanding in black maitake cultivation and production, along with his unique organic techniques, Odaira makes use of a proprietary growing process he developed to replicate the natural atmosphere inside a factory setting which helps in the mass production of the mushrooms.

Odaira’s long-term mission is to make the world cancer-free by making use of maitake benefits.

“Maitake mushrooms need the natural setting to grow. To cultivate it without any pesticides or chemicals, we brought the nature inside our factory,” says Odaira.

“Shogun Maitake technology allows us to carefully control and manipulate the temperature and humidity, so that mushrooms can be grown naturally. Maitake mushrooms and its benefits must be provided to the wellness of humanity.”

For the research study, the cancer cells will be derived from stage-four cancer patients. Drew says a big part of the study will be figuring out appropriate dosage levels.

“In the long-term it would be great if physicians could recommend these extracts to patients to take along with chemotherapy. What we want is if we put extracts through clinical trials, then doctors can recommend patients take as supplements to help with treatment,” she says.

“I just think the different applications of the extracts are really cool and I feel like I’m contributing to anti-cancer research.”

—Sara Elliott