Da Yoopers used to sing, 'Happy Birthday, Fungus Face", and while that works quite well as an insult, it turns out fungus from Michigan could be a kid's best friend.

Fungi taken from the bottom of the Great Lakes may turn out to be a life saver for children with cancer.

Working from a hypothesis that fungus, being a critical component of other drugs like penicillin and statins, could hold the key to be a cure for cancer, doctors at the University of Oklahoma have discovered that Great Lakes fungi have healing properties.

“I think they are the most brilliant chemists on earth,” Researcher Robert Cichewicz told the Great Lakes Echo. “They make amazing molecules for their own purposes of course, it just so happens we as humans can hijack them for other purposes.”

Fungi removed by Cichewicz' team from the bottom of Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior has been sustained in the laboratory and grown with the help of the popular breakfast cereal Cheerios.

“I was shocked when I started doing the background research looking through the Great Lakes, and just thinking ‘holy crap, there’s basically nothing known about this,’” said Cichewicz, a natural products professor at the University of Oklahoma. “That was just mind-boggling. One of the biggest freshwater sources on Earth and no one knew what its fungal component was."

So far, the team has unearthed a toxin that appears to be able to kill the cancer cells of a childhood cancer called Ewing's sarcoma.

More studies need to be conducted, but it could turn out that the dark depths of the Great Lakes has the potential to be the light for thousands of children who suffer from it.


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