Mushroom compound lengthens lives of dogs with cancer, has human potential

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

Dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma had significantly delayed metastatic progression and lived longer than any previously recorded time after treatment with an extract of the mushroom Coriolus versicolor, report US investigators.

The biologically aggressive nature of canine hemaniosarcoma, and its naturally occurring status in this diverse and complex species, makes it a target for investigations into antimetastatic and antiangiogenic therapies for potential human use, explains the team.

The findings suggest that polysaccharopeptide (PSP) - the bioactive agent in Coriolus versicolor - "might offer significant improvements in morbidity and mortality… for those cancer patients for whom advanced treatments are not accessible," say Dorothy Cimino Brown and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Furthermore, if the results can be confirmed in other studies, "this treatment can be a really nice alternative [to chemotherapy] for [dog] owners to have increased quality time with their pet at the end of its life," said Cimino Brown in a press statement.

Fifteen dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma and a life expectancy of at least 4 weeks were randomly assigned to receive PSP 25 (n=5), 50 (n=5), or 100 (n=5) mg/kg/day and followed up until death.

Dogs in the high-dose group (100 mg/kg/day) had a significantly delayed median time to progression of abdominal metastases compared with dogs in the low-dose group, at 112 days versus 30 days, report Cimino Brown et al in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

And, while there were no significant differences in survival curves between dose groups, the two highest dose groups had longer median survival times reported in the literature to date, write the authors.

"Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment," said Cimino Brown.

Median survival times for the medium- and high-dose groups were 117 and 199 days, respectively.

While one dog in the low-dose group developed hypercalcemia secondary to parathyroid adenoma, no unexpected comorbidities developed in any other dog, notes the research team.

PSP "causes cell cycle arrest and alterations in the expression of apoptogenic/antiapoptotic and extracellular signaling proteins, the net result being a reduction in proliferation and an increase in apoptosis," conclude Cimino Brown et al.

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