According to a report published in The Times Of India, it has been discovered that the mushrooms grown over Kutch, which happens to be the largest district in India, are useful for cancer treatment. The mushrooms of this region contain a vital element that can be used in the new radiation therapy for cancer patients. The scientists of Kutch University and GUIDE have been successful in extracting astatine. It happens to be a rare and natural element on earth that has been found in the edible mushrooms of this region.
Not only astatine happens to be very rare but also has a very short life cycle. It is also said that it caused very few side effects that occur from chemotherapy. According to scientists, only a few grams of astatine are found on earth, but this radioactive element only decays within a few hours.
While talking to the reporters about this, V Vijay Kumar, who is the director of GUIDE, said that cobalt radiation is largely used for chemotherapy during cancer treatment. But the downside is that it remains inside the body for a long time. In the process of damaging the cancer cells, it also damages the healthy cells too. And this is what leads to the side effects. But, in the case of astatine, it only signifies and damages the cancer cells and gets deactivated after a certain time. So, it causes very minimal damage to the body compared to cobalt.
He further added that some of the common side effects due to chemotherapy are weakness, hair loss, nausea, blood clots, vomiting, loss of memory, and many other symptoms. Furthermore, since cobalt stays in the body for a long time, there is a bigger gap between the two chemotherapy sessions.
Another major scientist at GUIDE K Karthikeyan who also happens to be working on this project has said that many other researchers around the world have said that, this radioactive element is also beneficial for improving radioimmunotherapy. It is very useful for the treatment of cancer.
Currently, multiple studies and research are going around the therapeutic use of astatine. But the only issue that lies is the scarcity in its supply. It is found only across a few selected regions. This is also hampering the depth of the research on its usage. But Karthikeyan also has added that since this can be gathered from this special category of mushrooms so, newer cancer treatments can hopefully be implemented soon.
In recent times medical and edible mushrooms have been cultivated in GUIDE too. The scientists at Kutch university have also taken some edible mushrooms for scientific research. They are in the process of discovering whether astatine is also present in them. This would help in becoming a little more abundant in supply.
Another scientist, G Jayanthi, who works in GUIDE, has also said they are taking the research further to find more about the characteristics of this element. This will help a lot during the process of chemotherapy in cancer patients.