Pale grebe is one of the most dangerous poisonous mushrooms. Its toxin, alpha-amanitin, is not destroyed by cooking and can cause death. The first potential antidote was discovered recently thanks to genetically modified cells and successfully tested in mice.
Chinese scientists from Sun Yat-sen University used the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic modification method to obtain human cell lines that specifically turned off genes encoding various proteins. Then the cells were treated with toxin pale toadstool, monitoring their reaction – death or survival.
The scientists found that the cell line with the non-functional STT3B protein, which leads the synthesis of glycoproteins, turned out to be the most resistant to the poison. Without this enzyme, alpha-amanitin cannot enter cells. The team then screened over 3,000 compounds that could block STT3B from working. It was found that indocyanine green, which is widely used in medicine, has such an effect.
Tests on laboratory mice showed that the introduction of indocyanine reduces mortality from toadstool poison from 90 percent to 50 percent. The dye has been known since the middle of the last century and has long been approved for medical use. Scientists hope to move quickly to human trials to get the first antidote to help with toadstool poisoning.
However, the main difficulty may be the timely use of the antidote. Symptoms appear later, when the time to use the antidote may be missed.