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This traditional Japanese dish may hold an answer to Covid-19 treatments: Study

A fermented soybean dish, which is often served for breakfast in Japan, may provide an answer to a modern problem, new research suggests: COVID-19

Natto, a breakfast dish, is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria found in plants and soil.

The results of the study were published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

Long believed that natto contributes to longer, healthier lives in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on Earth, home to more than a quarter of the world’s population aged 65 and over – natto was previously considered a staple food for those least likely to die. from a stroke or heart disease.

Now researchers have found that an extract of the sticky, strong-smelling natto can suppress the ability of the virus that causes COVID-19 infect cells.

“Traditionally, the Japanese believed that natto was good for their health,” said article author Tetsuya Mizutani, director of the Center for Epidemiology and Prevention of Infectious Diseases at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (CEPiR-TUAT).

“In recent years, research has revealed scientific evidence for this belief. In this study, we investigated the antiviral effect of natto on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), which causes respiratory disease in cattle, ”added Mizutani.

Natto is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria found in plants and soil. The researchers prepared two natto extracts from food, one heated and the other unheated. They applied the extracts to sets of laboratory-cultured cattle and human cells. One kit was infected with SARS-CoV-2 and the other kit was infected with BHV-1.

When treated with unheated natto extract, SARS-CoV-2 and BHV-1 lost their ability to infect cells. However, the heat-treated natto extract did not affect any of the viruses.

“We found what looks like a protease or protease – proteins that metabolize other proteins – in the natto extract directly digest the receptor-binding domain on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” Mizutani said, noting that the protease appears to be , is destroyed. in the heat, losing the ability to digest proteins and allowing the virus to remain infectious.

The spike protein is located on the surface of the virus and binds to the receptor on the host cells. SARS-CoV-2 with an inactive spike protein cannot infect healthy cells. Researchers have found a similar effect on BHV-1.

“We also confirmed that natto extract has the same digestive effect on receptor-binding domain proteins in mutant SARS-CoV-2 strains such as the Alpha variant,” Mizutani said.

While the results are promising, Mizutani said, he also warned that further research is needed to determine the exact molecular mechanisms at work.

He also stressed that the study did not provide any evidence of a reduction in viral infection simply by consuming natto. Once the components have been identified and their function has been verified, the researchers plan to move on to clinical studies in animal models.

“While there are vaccines against Covid-19, we do not know how effective they are against each option,” Mizutani said.

“It will also take time to vaccinate everyone and there are still reports of breakouts, so we need to develop a treatment for those who develop Covid-19. This work could give a big hint of such a pharmaceutical design, ”concluded Mizutani.

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This story was published from the news agency tape without text changes. Only the title has changed.



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