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Under the microscope: Fomitopsis officinalis

This month: Fomitopsis officinalis

What is Fomitopsis officinalis?

A wood-inhabiting parasitic fungus forming distinctive conks that can be more than 50 cm long, hoof-shaped or columnar.

You mean agarikon?

Yes, that is how the fungus is commonly known. Since ancient times it has been used for medical purposes.

I’m guessing that’s why we are looking at it today.

Indeed. It is part of a novel study assessing whether medicinal mushrooms and Chinese herbs provide therapeutic benefit in treating acute COVID-19 infection.

OK. Tell me more.

It is a multi-centre study led by University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UCLA, in collaboration with the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. It is among the first to evaluate these integrative medicine approaches using a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

So, what’s the latest?

The trial started in December 2020 and is due to run until December 2022. It will test the safety and feasibility of a 50/50 blend of the mushrooms agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis) and turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) in capsule form.

Is there any previous evidence? In a preclinical study published in 2019 in Mycology, agarikon was found to inhibit viruses including influenza A(H1N1), influenza A(H5N1) and herpes.

What do the team hope for?

That the mushrooms may inhibit the viruses’ replication – a theory they plan to test in a Phase II trial.

Where can I learn more?

Visit clinicaltrials.gov and search for “MACH-19” for more information.

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