The Mushrooms That Can Treat Breast Cancer, Digest Polyurethane and Replace Styrofoam

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Multitasking Drugs

Medical and Research Sciences helped us to find natural substances that multitask across the divergent fields of medicine and waste management. In the future we expect to be able to benefit from more of these types of discovery.

In 2012, research uncovered the startling fact that a fungus previously proven to yield a medication useful in the treatment of breast and other cancers can also dissolve those pesky plastics and replace Styrofoam that nothing so far can destroy.

Biodegradable Styrofoam

Another fungus was discovered as a sticky substance on the bottom of mushrooms. It had been discovered before and been called mycelium, but college students also found that it could be developed pretty easily into glue. The glue could then be combined with food byproducts like corn husks to make a product very similar to Styrofoam, but biodegradable. The students formed their own company and called it Ecovative.

The sustainable, biodegradable materials of Ecovative can be grown into items as diverse as building materials or automotive parts that are currently Styrofoam based. No light, water or petrochemicals are needed to grow parts as if they were mushrooms.

The body of research shows that taxol comes from the Pacific yew and other plantlife, produced by an associated fungus (e.g. mushroom), and has been effective in the treatment of breast and other cancers, despite some unpleasant side effects in some patients.

Research students in a class that studies rain forest plants regularly through Yale University studied the fungus named pestalotiopsis microspora, found by students most recently in Ecuador.It is associated not only with yew, but also with the guava, growing inside the tissues of these plants in symbiosis.

Results from studies in 2008 - 2012 showed that the fungus can subsist on polyurethane alone in a vacuum (no oxygen, light, or water needed). This makes it perfect to use in eliminating plastic trash, by dissolving and consuming it.

Background References:

Song, D., Hsu, L.-F. and Au, J. L.-S. (1996), Binding of taxol to plastic and glass containers and protein under in vitro conditions. J. Pharm. Sci., 85: 29–31. doi: 10.1021/js950286j

  • Results: Data indicated (a) rapid and nonspecific adsorption (binding) of taxol to plastic and glass surfaces, (b) stabilization of taxol in culture medium by FBS, and (c) saturable protein binding of taxol in culture medium.
  • Study completed through College of Pharmacy and Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, 500 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210.

Precedent For Off Label Use

Clonidine was a popular drug emerging in the 1980s and first tested in 1966 that was soon prescribed for more off label uses than for its manufactured purpose of controlling hypertension (high blood pressure). This medication has been used successfully in a number of cases of neurologically related conditions such as OCD, ADHD, tics associated with ADHD and Tourette's, drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, hot flashes (to some extent), sleep bruxism (teeth grinding), and several others.

Interestingly, clonidine was developed from nose drops that lowered the blood pressure of patients too far, to the extent of hypotension.

Taxol

Taxol is used as a Paclitaxel Injection in chemotherapy treatments in a hospital and under the supervision of a physician. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) instruct us that this injection comes in two forms, depending where in the body it needs to go to fight the cancer.

The first form is Abraxane, which is manufactured with human albumin for use against some cases of breast cancer, and the second form is Onxol is manufactured with a solvent: polyoxyethylated castor oil, plus alcohol. A solvent dissolves things and Onxol may cause a dangerous allergic reaction that must be handled quickly. Onxol is used against ovarian, lung, and breast cancer, but also against Kaposi's sarcoma.

These taxol based injections can also be used to treat other forms of cancer.


How many old wig heads are in the nation's landfills?
How many old wig heads are in the nation's landfills? | Source

Dissolving Plastics Out Of a Solution

The method of dissolving plastics is most useful in America's landfills via injection of the substance into the trash. However, many of the landfills are lined with plastic before receiving the first load of trash, so this plastic liner might be dissolved as well, sending harmful substances into the ground water. The best plan thus far proposed is to dig a new landfill, lining it with metal liners or some other material, load trash into it, and dissolve the trash.

Dissolving the accumulation of plastics in the North Pacific Ocean (the Pacific Garbage Patch) and in four additional gyres of rotating ocean currents around the world, is more difficult.

The Garbage Patch is like a soup rather than a solid. The garbage patch we know best, that in the Pacific, is not a mass of plastic twice the size of Texas, but a section of ocean that large and it contains a multitude of small pieces of plastic. Surprisingly, it is not an island, but a solution of ocean water and debris (reference: 5 Gyres link below). Worse, the Earth has five such areas.

Quoted from PerthNow, February 26, 2010:

About the Atlantic Gyre north of the Caribbean:

The plastic debris is so small it mingles in with the seaweed and gets mistaken for food.

The same is true of the North Pacific Gyre, density of both being 200,000 tiny pieces of plastic per square kilometer.Sea life and waterfowl accidentally eat the debris and die.

The ocean at Pacific Grover, California.
The ocean at Pacific Grover, California. | Source

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Comments 16 comments

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Wow, dissolving plastic! That's really something. I agree with you that you can't have that seeping into the soul and later the water. There has to be some measure taken to ensure that doesn't happen.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Yes and the landfills are big. Well, the researchers have their work ahead of them still on this one. But isn't science remarkable?


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

I meant soil not soul...lol...wouldn't want that either! Without science where would we be?!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

Science is remarkable and so are you. Up, interesting and awesome.


BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 4 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

This is incredibly fascinating stuff. Mushrooms are going to save the world, I tell you.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Props to mushrooms!


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

Now if they can only find something that prevents breast and other cancers!!! Very interesting hub Patty.


incomeguru profile image

incomeguru 4 years ago from Lagos

This is really interesting. The result has proven that, the researchers are well equipped with the right scientific knowledge, and which aided the research conducted.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 4 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

Very interesting that these mushrooms have been found to be able to do this kind of work. There is definitely a need considering how much waste there is in the world, and how much is produced daily. Voted up and interesting.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 4 years ago from Tampa Bay

Fascinating. Now if we can just reduce the use of plastic water bottles! I recently watched the documentary Tapped about the use of water bottles, and millions of them end up in these gyres. We need to care about our oceans which generate oxygen and remove carbon, the health of our oceans affect the health of all living creatures.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Patty, I always knew that mushrooms were special (and the edible ones also delicious) but treating cancer, digesting plastics and replacing styrofoam? Wno knew? Thanks for this fascinating information.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

In Ohio, we have biodegradable water bottles, the plastic of which is made from corn. They are still transparent and degrade quickly. The cost of water paced this way is a bit higher than petrochemical plastic, but not much.

In a documentary I saw that the US Navy takes all their pop cans on ship board, grinds them up, and dumps them into the oceans to dissolve, but I wonder how this really affects the ocean world.


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful hub. A very important battle tool against cancer that hopefully will save lives. Thank you for sharing it. And I hope everyone bookmarks this hub who stands the risk of cancer which is actually everyone. It is so important to have knowledge to even think about a beginning, or a possible way out of a bad situation. God Bless You in your never ending quest for answers, and solutions that help so many people.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Yes, I am always looking for answers that can help people. We are very close to ending some long-time plagues. Thanks for visiting, stars439. I always appreciate your comments.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

I shall be watching for applications of these discoveries - as soon as some company figures out how to make money from them, I'm sure the research will become suddenly well-funded. That may sound a bit cynical, but we need to have more than goodwill on our side :)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

...as in the case of growing new organs from powdered pig bladder matrix. The product and method even work on the oldest elderly, quickly, but I don't see it being used.

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