A neuroscientist from The University of Queensland (UQ) is collaborating with a South Korean company working with traditional medicine products to determine their effect on the human brain.

Researchers led by Professor Frederic Meunier from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) are collaborating with CNGBio Corporation to understand the effects of ginkgo leaf extract, combined with and without lion’s mane mushroom, on brain cells.

Professor Meunier said lion’s mane mushroom had been widely used as a traditional medicine in Asian countries such as Korea, China, India and Japan, as well as around the world as a health supplement.

With support from CNGBio, he has undertaken research into the combination of ginkgo leaf extract and lion’s mane mushroom and its effect on brain cell outgrowth.

He said preliminary findings, which are not yet published, showed that ginkgo extract and lion’s mane mushroom had a measurable effect on brain cells in laboratory tests.

“Preliminary findings, using cells taken from rats in the laboratory, show that the combined extracts accelerate cell growth in the hippocampal neurons of the brain,” Professor Meunier said.

“This brain cell growth means the neurons develop more frequent and much longer branches.

“These branches are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish connections with the brain cells around them.”

CNGBio will license the intellectual property resulting from Professor Meunier’s research to further develop potential food products.

The licence deal followed an intellectual property and research collaboration with CNGBio, facilitated by UniQuest, UQ’s main commercialisation company.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the collaboration presented an exciting opportunity.

“This licence is a great outcome from the research partnership into these combined traditional medicine products,” he said.

CNGBio CEO Jaekang Lee said the properties of lion’s mane mushroom had been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.

“It is only now that we are starting to unravel the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom and its potential beneficial properties,” he said.

“We are delighted to partner with UQ to enable the collaboration with Professor Meunier on this exciting work.”

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