How a dye can be an antidote for mushroom poisoning

In Germany, too, people are dying because they accidentally ate a toadstool. Researchers now want to have found an antidote.

Anyone who goes looking for mushrooms knows that it is better to take a close look at what you cut off and throw into the pan at home.

Because in Germany there are fungi that can sometimes be deadly. These include the death cap mushroom – one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world.

Although there are comparatively few deaths from mushroom poisoning in Germany – according to Statista there were five people in 2019, and there were no deaths in 2020 – one should exercise caution. But there is good news. Researchers want to have found a possible antidote for mushroom poison.

Dye could help with poisoning

Scientists from China have discovered that the substance indocyanine green – a dye that is used in medicine, especially in imaging processes – can reduce the toxin α-amanitin in mice and human cell lines. Cell lines are cells that can divide continuously and indefinitely in culture. They are obtained from tissue samples or tumors and cultivated in the laboratory under controlled conditions.

The researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. They found that the protein STT3B is responsible for the toxicity (toxicity) of α-amanitin. α-Amanitin is one of the most toxic compounds in nature and is found in death cap mushrooms, among other things.

According to the scientists’ studies, the STT3B protein can be inhibited by indocyanine green in such a way that α-amanitin cannot penetrate the cells. In the experiments with the human cell lines, indocyanine green made the cells more resistant to the poisoning.

Method could also be used for other poisons

In tests with mice, the researchers found that the substance significantly helped reduce damage to the liver and kidneys, thereby increasing the likelihood of survival. About 50 percent of mice treated with indocyanine green survived α-amanitin poisoning, while about 90 percent of untreated mice died.

According to the researchers, more research is needed to find out exactly how indocyanine green blocks α-amanitin. They also emphasize that the method they used – a combination of a genetic test called CRISPR screening and computational drug screening – could help quickly find new treatments for other toxic substances in humans.

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