Researchers at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered that a bean commonly used in Chinese cuisine protects against the life-threatening condition sepsis. These findings are published in the current issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM).
It has been found that a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) protein, HMGB1, mediates inflammation. Inflammation is necessary for maintaining good health – without inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal. However, persistent and constant inflammation can damage tissue and organs, and lead to diseases such as sepsis. Sepsis affects approximately 750,000 Americans each year, 28 to 50 percent of whom die from the condition, and costs the nation’s healthcare system nearly $17 billion annually. It is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection or injury, and occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. The result is that organs become damaged, including liver, heart, lungs, kidney, and brain. If excessive damage occurs, it may be irreversible. Therefore, it is important to identify ways in which persistent and constant inflammation can be halted.
Neutralising the protein HMGB1 protects against persistent and constant inflammation that result in damage to tissue and organs. Haichao Wang, PhD, and his colleagues, including Shu Zhu, MD and PhD, and Andrew E. Sama, MD, at the Feinstein Institute found that extract from mung bean (Vigna radiata), a bean native to India and commonly used in Chinese food and traditional medicine, reduced the release of HMGB1, thereby increasing survival rates in mice from 29.4 percent to 70 percent (P < 0.05).
“Many traditional medicinal herbs have been successfully developed into effective therapies for various inflammatory ailments, and now we have validated the therapeutic potential of another medicinal product, mung bean extract,” said Dr. Wang. “Demonstrating that mung bean extract has a positive effect on septic mice shows promise that this bean can also have a positive effect on septic humans – of course, additional studies are required to prove the safe and effective use in humans.”
The Feinstein Institute and its parent company, the North Shore-LIJ Health System, have been dedicated to studying and treating sepsis. In 2010, the Feinstein Institute hosted an international Merinoff Symposium dedicated to sepsis. This symposia attracted researchers, policymakers and other opinion leaders from around the world who identified that sepsis should be categorised as a medical emergency treatable with fluids and antibiotics within one hour of recognition. The health system mounted an aggressive sepsis prevention and early identification initiative that has reduced the health system’s sepsis mortality rate by 35 percent in the last four years, which translates into thousands of saved lives.