Amanitine: from fungal poison to anti-cancer agent

Amanitine: from fungal poison to anti-cancer agent

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Active ingredients from the green tuber agaric to heal cancer

The green tuber agaric (Amanita phalloides) is extremely poisonous. Even the consumption of small amounts can lead to death from liver failure. It is in this highly poisonous mushroom that there are healing ingredients that may be suitable for cancer therapy. A German research team has now been able to synthesize the so-called amanitins, making them accessible on a larger scale.

German scientists recently presented a new synthesis method for α-amanitin, an active ingredient that comes from the highly toxic green tuber agaric. Amanitins can be produced in higher amounts through the synthesis, which makes them more accessible for cancer research. Because amanitins are considered a possible active ingredient in antibody-based cancer therapies. The study was recently presented in the journal "Angewandte Chemie".

How Can Amanitins Help Cure Cancer?

As the research team reports, amanitins inhibit the enzyme RNA polymerase II. The life of every cell depends on this enzyme, since it controls the formation of new cells. The inhibition leads to the interruption of protein synthesis and ultimately to cell death. If amantines were introduced into cancer cells with the help of antibodies, they could specifically target tumors.

Even though this connection has been known for a long time, further research in this area failed due to the availability of amantines. The newly discovered synthesis should now close this gap.

First take it apart and then put it back together

Researchers around Professor Dr. Roderich D. Süssmuth from the Technical University of Berlin present an alternative total synthesis route for the active ingredient α-amanitin, the most effective amanitin. "We chose a convergent route, which means that several building blocks are first synthesized independently of one another and ultimately linked to form the target molecule," summarizes research director Süssmuth.

The foundation stone for amanitin active ingredients has been laid

"Our α-amanitin synthesis is the first to run entirely in the liquid phase," explains Süssmuth. This opens up access to larger amounts of α-amanitin in order to investigate its suitability for cancer therapies. Furthermore, the synthesis offers a possibility for the industrial production of active substances based on amanitin. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Angewandte Chemie: New synthetic route for amanitin, a therapeutically interesting fungal poison (published: February 4th, 2020),
  • Mary-Ann J. Siegert, Caroline H. Knittel, Prof. Dr. Süssmuth: A convergent total synthesis of the fungal toxin α ‐ amanitin; in: Angewandte Chemie, 2019,