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Health Beat: Saving Max with mushrooms

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 05 2014 09:00:00 AM CST

Health Beat: Saving Max with mushrooms

PHILADELPHIA -

One in four dogs will develop cancer this year. The diagnosis can be devastating, especially for those with one of its most aggressive forms, hemangiosarcoma, which kills in fewer than 90 days.

But now, the key to a longer life could be held in an ancient Chinese mushroom that's more than 2,000-years-old. Also, it may not be just for man’s best friend, but man himself could benefit.

Life without their dog Max would be unimaginable for the Walter family.

"He’s very sweet. He’s a good, good buddy," said Christy Walter.

So, when Max was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of the spleen, known as hemangiosarcoma, it was hard.

Max's vet shared the grim news.

"This is how long he has. He has one to two months. There’s a trial you can try," Walter said.

Max enrolled in a new clinical trial at Penn Vet that's testing an ancient Chinese mushroom.

"This could be really, really major," said Dr. Dorothy Cimino-Brown, professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Researchers found dogs treated with a compound from the Yun Zhi mushroom, known as PSP, had the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with the deadly disease; going from a maximum two-months with no treatment, to several dogs living more than a year with only the mushroom as a treatment.

"What we saw was so unexpected and so dramatic and the potential implications of it are huge," Cimino-Brown said.

That includes helping humans fight cancer. For now, the Walters are thankful for their extra time with Max.

"And it’s good time, quality time. He’s not just lying there sick," Walter explained.

Researchers were so surprised with the results of the first study that they actually went back and looked at the biopsies to make sure the dogs had this deadly spleen cancer to begin with.

There are products with PSP on the market for human and animal consumption, but researchers caution since they are supplements; they are not regulated by the FDA.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor