Saturday, October 1, 2011

Current Events: New Drug for Treatment of Mushroom Poisoning

These innocuous-looking Amanita phalloides mushrooms are one of the deadliest fungi known
(from Interesting Facts You Didn't Know)

A couple of weeks ago I featured "Menacing Mushroom Week", including a Mystery Monday post about a travel mystery novel by Maria Hudgins in which the murderer used Amanita mushrooms to poison his victim.  Well, it now seems that if the poor victim had only known what was ailing him, he might have survived via treatment with a brand new drug!  According to this article, an experimental drug called silibinin has recently been used successfully on four accidental mushroom poisoning victims here in the United States.  This drug, which is already approved for treatment in Europe under the name of Legalon, comes from the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum) and works by preventing the amatoxins of these mushrooms from reaching the liver, where they often cause liver failure.

The four U.S. victims were lucky, as silibinin is not yet officially approved for use in this country.  Until this happens, anyone who forages for wild mushroom should remember to NEVER eat a wild mushroom unless you are 100% certain about its identification!

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