Scientists hope mushrooms rich in chemicals that boost the human immune system could soon yield an important new treatment for cancer, reports Scottish newspaper The Herald. Biochemists are to publish findings in the Spring after looking at extensive research from China and the Pacific rim. The scientists, based at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland, found evidence that extracts of "exotic" fungi, such as the Japanese shiitake mushroom, can have very positive effects on cancer patients' recovery rates and survival after surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Extracts of the mushrooms also appear effective against a range of infections, from 'flu to the common cold, and seem to act in the same way as conventional drugs in lowering blood cholesterol. John Smith, emeritus professor of bio-chemistry at Strathclyde, who is heading the study, said "The main compounds are polysaccharides - partof the wall structure of the fungi. Their main function seems to be to stimulate the human immune system". The research was backed by a grant from the Cancer Research Campaign and the team at Strathclyde University hope that their report will lead to empirical research on the shiitake and similar mushrooms.