Asahi Breweries Ltd. said Wednesday that hops used in beer production contain a substance that neutralizes the verotoxin that causes the deadly O-157 strain of E. coli bacteria.

The neutralizing effect of the substance, known as hop bract polyphenols, was confirmed on a joint basis by a group of Asahi researchers and a research team led by Masatoshi Noda, a professor at Chiba University’s Graduate School of Medicine, the brewer said.

As the substance applies to the toxin, rather than the bacteria, it is effective even when the bacteria have become immune to antibiotics.

Verotoxins destroy cells and cause severe diarrhea. By experimenting on rabbits, Noda and other researchers found that hop bract polyphenols join the toxin and prevent it from destroying cells.

The finding will have practical applicability “before long,” an Asahi official said.

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