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.
More than 1,000 seismic events had been recorded in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures by Thursday in the two weeks since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck southwestern Japan, while over 30,000 people remain evacuated from their homes. (Japan Today)
Japan has lodged a protest with Taiwan over a statement made by its president challenging Tokyo's claim to waters in the Pacific. Ma Ying-jeou described Japan's southernmost island as a rock around which it cannot claim an exclusive economic zone. (NHK)
Japan's ski competition governing body has suspended the membership of 2 teenage snowboarders for their use of marijuana. They used the banned drugs on their tours of the United States in December. (NHK)
A 28-year-old nursery school teacher who forced a 4-year-old boy to eat fried chicken covered with wasabi and recorded it on her smartphone, has received a suspended sentence from the Tokyo District Court. (Japan Today)