A DRINK derived from a vegetable has been hailed as a breakthrough in the search for a cure for flu.
Published: Wed, November 6, 2013
Flu could soon be banished by a landmark scientific discovery [GETTY: Pic posed by model]
When a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza
They discovered that a strain of bacteria in pickled turnip, a dish popular in Japan, boosts immunity to the virus. Experts are already carrying out human trials on a probiotic drink which contains the powerful new ingredient.
The development comes as a leading British expert has warned that the UK is facing one of the worst winter flu tolls for years, with up to 4,000 deaths.
If the research proves effective, a huge number of lives could be saved by people protecting themselves with a probiotic drink, similar to those drunk daily to boost good bacteria in the gut.
Japanese turnips are hailed as the new health wonder [ALAMY]
The bacteria increased the production of immune system moleclues, including flu-specific antibodies. In mice, the effects were powerful enough to prevent infection by the highly contagious H1N1 swine flu. Scientists at research company Kagome believe there could also be protection against the deadly H7N9 strain which has recently emerged in China.
While suguki fans hail its protective powers, it is unknown why the bacteria protects against flu, but it was found to be extremely tolerant to acidic stomach juices.
It is not known whether the same effects will be seen in humans but scientists are hopeful they have found the next superfood.
Scientists warn this year could be the worst for flu deaths [GETTY: Pic posed by model]
The research concluded: “Continual intake of (the drink) for 14 days prior to influenza virus infection alleviated symptoms such as loss of body weight and deterioration in observational physical conditions induced by the infection.”
Ms Waki said further studies are needed to confirm initial findings. Human trials are now under way.
Last month, virologist Professor John Oxford, of Queen Mary University in London, said Britain had “got away with it” recently and predicted this would be the worst winter for flu deaths for years.
He warned doctors and other health staff to improve the shockingly low levels of flu jabs among their ranks, which greatly increases the chances of flu spreading.
Many Britons have limited immunity after several years of relatively low-level outbreaks.
Analysts at Datamonitor Healthcare are forecasting that 10.5 million people will get flu this winter. The virus is most deadly to the elderly and very young.