Scientists are studying the properties of a mushroom that grows on caterpillars to see if it can be used as a painkiller for people with arthritis. Derbyshire-based Arthritis Research UK is funding a £260,000 research study at the University of Nottingham. The cordiceps fungus is cultivated in China where it is used as a traditional medicine. An estimated eight million people in the UK are affected by osteoarthritis.
The researchers are giving the mushroom as food pellets to rats and mice to find out if cordycepin can prevent pain. Lead researcher Dr Cornelia de Moor said: “When we first started investigating this compound it was frankly a bit of a long shot and there was much scepticism from the scientific community.