Shiitake Mushroom | Wikimedia Commons
Shiitake Mushroom | Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi: Scientists at CSIR-IHBT are planning to launch a human clinical trial to assess the benefit of shiitake mushrooms developed by the lab among people who are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.

In February, ThePrint had reported that a team of researchers from CSIR-IHBT, led by Rakshak Kumar, had developed a low-cost method to grow shiitake mushrooms in the laboratory, a move that would allow local farmers to augment their income.

Native to East Asia, shiitake is a fragrant, large umbrella variety of mushroom, mostly used in Japanese cuisine. However, shiitake mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular in India, said the researchers.

Shiitake mushrooms are expensive because they grow under very specific conditions on logs of fallen trees. Although shiitake is cultivated in northeast India at present, researchers at CSIR-IHBT have developed a new technology that allows these mushrooms to grow in controlled lab conditions much faster.

Moreover, the variety grown by CSIR has enhanced Vitamin D levels.

To understand if the mushrooms can work as a nutraceutical — food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits — to enhance vitamin D levels in people who are deficient, the team led by Rakshak Kumar, now plans to have human trials that will evaluate the benefit of a standardised (the preparation will have to be such that each batch of the final nutraceutical product has the same level of Vitamin D) shiitake mushroom soup on vitamin D levels.

“Nowadays, a lot of our jobs keep us indoors. Due to low exposure to sunlight, a lot of people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. We want to evaluate if our Vitamin D enhanced mushrooms can help people overcome this deficiency,” Aman Thakur, a PhD student in Kumar’s lab, told ThePrint.

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‘Trial by third-party organisation’

According to Thakur the trial will recruit at least 60 people, who will be divided into three groups.

The first group of 20 people will be fed soup made from normal shiitake mushrooms that do not have enhanced Vitamin D levels. The second group will get the soup made from Vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms grown by the CSIR-IHBT lab. The third group will receive Vitamin D supplements.

The trial will be carried out for four to six weeks, after which the team will analyse blood serum samples from the participants for Vitamin D levels.

The trial is yet to begin, but will be conducted by a third party. The institute will soon issue a tender to invite a third-party organisation for the same, said Thakur.

The preparation of dried shiitake mushrooms, that will be used to make the soup, will also be standardised before the trials are conducted, Thakur said.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Scientists launch hunt to find naturally Covid-resistant people, 1,000 volunteers to be enrolled


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