Scientists discover mushroom capable of magnifying memory, boosting nerve growth: Study

Australian scientists have identified a new active compound in an edible mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, that is capable of boosting nerve growth and even enhancing memory. The University of Queensland’s pre-clinical test has found that edible Lion's Mane mushrooms have a significant impact on the growth of human brain cells.

Researchers feel this discovery could be used to protect against and treat Alzheimer's disease

According to Professor Frederic Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute, his team has identified new active compounds in the mushroom that improve brain cell growth. "Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells," Professor Meunier shared.

"Pre-clinical testing found the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory. Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons," Professor Meunier added.

"Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain," he concluded.

UQ’s Dr Ramon Martinez-Marmol, who is a co-author of the study, feel that the discovery had applications that could treat and protect patients against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

"Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation," Dr Martinez-Marmol said.

Dr Dae Hee Lee from CNGBio Co, which has supported the research project, said that the properties of lion’s mane mushrooms had been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.

"This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory," Dr Lee revealed.

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