'Umeboshi' have H1N1 suppressant

WAKAYAMA (Kyodo) Researchers have found in “umeboshi” pickled plums a substance that can suppress the growth of the H1N1 swine flu virus, Wakayama Medical University said Tuesday.

The university had been conducting studies since 2006 with funds from five plum processing firms in the town of Minabe and the city of Tanabe in Wakayama Prefecture, a region known for its high-quality plums.

The substance is a type of polyphenol and its existence had not been previously confirmed, the university said.

Researchers led by Hirotoshi Utsunomiya, associate professor of pathology at the university, found the substance through laboratory tests in which they added extracts from umeboshi to cells infected with the H1N1 virus.

They found that when the substance is added to the infected cells, the growth of the virus in them was suppressed by roughly 90 percent after about seven hours, according to the university.

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