Ganoderma Research: Combined effects of Lingzhi and Gefitinib (Iressa) improves Lung Cancer

Sunday 7 April 2024

This article is sourced and translated from Ganoderma Magazine (Issue 88). It is a report of a scientific study concluding that the combined therapy of Lingzhi triterpenoids and Gefitinib (sold under the brand name Iressa) improves lung cancer and reduces toxicity.

Lung cancer ranks among the most common primary cancer worldwide and is a leading cause of deaths amongst men and second amongst women. 

There are 2 types of lung cancer:

(i) Small cell lung cancer 

(ii) Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Advances in medical discoveries and technologies have improved the therapeutic methods for lung cancer. Gefitinib (trade name: Iressa) is a targeted drug commonly used to treat late-stage metastasis NSCLC and other cancer, like breast cancer. However, after 10 to 16 months of therapy, patients normally develop resistance to the drug thereby frustrating the treatment process.

Therefore, seizing the effective curative period of Gefitinib is crucial to the control of the metastatic cancer cells. At the same time, reducing the side effects of the drugs would enable the patients to be in a better state to fight the illness and reverse the situation. A joint study by the Dept of Oncology, Yantai Hospital of TCM and School of Medicine, Tibet University, found that the combination of Lingzhi triterpenoid and Gefitinib therapy increases efficacy and reduces toxicity. The study, which was headed by Wei Liu, is titled Ganoderma Triterpenoids attenuate tumour angiogenesis in lung cancer tumour-bearing nude mice, and was published in Pharmaceutical Biology in 2020.

The Experiment

Human lung cancer cells (A549) were cultured and then injected into immune-deficient mice (BALB/c). When the tumor grew to around 6-8 mm in diameter, the mice were randomly divided into 4 groups and administered for 14 days in the following manner:

(i) Saline group (control) - intragastric injection with saline daily.

(ii) GLT group - intragastric injection with Lingzhi triterpenoids (1g/kg daily).

(iii) GEF group - intraperitoneal injection with gefitinib (15mg/kg daily).

(iv) GLT + GEF group - combination of (ii) and (iii).

The mice were sacrificed and analysed on the 15th day.

The Results

It was found that the tumor volume of GLT, GEF and GLT+GEF groups were significantly lower than the Saline (Control) group. The inhibition rates of the tumors were GLT 37%, GEF 43% and GLT+GEF 52%. This suggested that although GLT and GEF may inhibit the rate of tumor growth individually, the combined effect is higher. The inhibition was due to the accelerated apoptosis of cancer cells and at the same time inhibiting tumor angiogenesis.

What is Angiogenesis?

Angiogenesis is the process through which new blood vessels grow from existing blood vessels. In order to survive, tumors need to continuously grow new blood vessels to link to existing blood vessels for oxygen and nutrients. This also explains how cancer cells tend to spread (metastasize) to the surrounding tissues and other parts of the body. Therefore, the density of micro-vessels (microvascular) in the tumor tissues will be key to the continuous growth of tumors.

The study made a histological (immunohistochemical) analysis of the tumor tissues of the various group. Quantifying the analysis showed that GLT and GEF groups had lower microvascular density (MVD) than the control group, indicating inhibition of tumor angiogenesis. However, the efficacy was much better when GLT was combined with GEF.

The Side Effects

The mice were weighed on the 1st, 8th and 15th day of the study. The results showed, after the 8th day, the weight of:

- The GEF group dropped significantly.

- The GLT group was stable.

- The GLT+GEF group maintained closer to that of normal healthy mice.

This indicated that the combined therapy of GLT+GEF reduces the side effects of GEF as weight is normally an indicator of well being.

In their observation of the mice, the study found that:

- The GEF group showed signs of agitation and drowsiness, reduced physical activity, decreased feeding and dull skin colour. This could be due to the effects of administrating GEF.

- The GLT+GEF group showed no obvious agitation and drowsiness, accessed water and food without difficulty, and exhibited improved skin color compared to the GEF group.

The results indicated that GLT played a role in alleviating the effects caused by GEF.


The study showed that Lingzhi triterpenoids do not affect the efficacy of Gefitinib but enhanced it.

Note: The study did not dwell into the details of the Lingzhi triterpenoids being used and what was the effective content. The dosage of 1g/kg used in the study was high, but one should note that the study is for a short duration and the researchers would like to know the results within a short span of time. A reasonable dosage is necessary for Lingzhi to take effect in this kind of situation

(Source: Shuang Hor Video Depository, 19/12/2021)

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