Bacteria found in a traditional Japanese pickle could prevent flu, a study suggests.
Scientists investigated the immune-boosting powers of Lactobacillus bugs in Suguki, a pickled turnip popular in Japan.
"Our results show that when a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza virus infection," said lead researcher Naoko Waki, from the Japanese food company Kagome.
The findings are published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology. Human trials using a probiotic drink containing the same KB290 strain of the bug are under way.
A protective layer of sugars called exopolysaccharides that protects the bacteria against acid stomach juices could lie behind its powers, the Japanese researchers believe.
Government figures show a sharp and continuous fall-off in the number of farmers over the past five years that potentially threatens the landscape as its stewards leave the sector and are not replaced. (Japan Times)
Japan plans to boost financial aid to developing countries to help them tackle climate change by providing about ¥1.3 trillion (about $10.6 billion) a year by 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday. (The Japan News)
The Japanese government plans to tighten its energy-efficiency standards for lamps to effectively ban production and imports of fluorescents and incandescents, informed sources said Thursday. (Jiji Press)
No major gangster bloodbath has occurred in the three months since Japan's largest yakuza organization, Yamaguchi-gumi, split into two rival mobs, but to say the sides are living in harmony would be an exaggeration. (Asahi)
A 60-year-old man in Tochigi Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, who claims to be an exorcist was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing a diabetic boy by halting the administration of insulin, police said. (Japan Today)
Police and animal protection center officials captured the last of two emus, an ostrich-like bird from Australia, that escaped from a farm in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, earlier this month. (Japan Times)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested the head of an adult video (AV) label specializing in productions featuring gay men for employing an underage male actor, reports Nippon News Network. (Tokyo Reporter)