Lunasin is a peptide that can be found in soy, barley, wheat, and rye. It is found both in grains originating in the American continents as well as the old world continents. This polypeptide was originally isolated, purified, and sequenced from soybean seed in 1987. Although uncertain about the peptide’s biological activity, the Japanese team of researchers described it as a 43-amino acid peptide, noting specifically the unusual poly (L-aspartic acid) sequence at the carboxyl terminus. Subsequent research by Alfredo Galvez in the laboratory of Ben de Lumen at the University of California–Berkeley identified the peptide as a subunit of the cotyledon-specific 2S albumin. The name of the protein was chosen from the Filipino word lunas, which means "cure". Lunasin was patented as a biologic molecule in 1999 by de Lumen and Galvez.
The biological activity of lunasin was discovered by Galvez while working in the laboratory of de Lumen at UC Berkeley.
There has been much research interest in the biomedical aspects of lunasin but the high cost of synthesizing lunasin made experimentation difficult. This limitation has been overcome by the development of methods to isolate highly purified lunasin from soybean white flake, a byproduct of soybean processing. In laboratory and animal experiments lunasin has shown anti-carcinogenic activity which suggests it may have chemopreventive potential.
In 2014, a local news program reported that a person with ALS named Mike McDuff had experienced dramatic improvements in their speech, swallowing and limb strength while taking a supplement regimen containing lunasin. ALSUntangled investigated and was able to confirm that Mike McDuff had progressive muscular atrophy a 'lower motor neuron' form of ALS, and really did experience dramatic and objective improvements. Since one possible explanation for these improvements was the use of lunasin, Dr. Richard Bedlack of the Duke ALS Clinic decided to perform a clinical trial. Fifty people with ALS were put on the exact Lunasin containing regimen that Mike McDuff had taken and were followed for a year. The trial finished in September 2017. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that lunasin slowed, stopped or reversed ALS in any of the trial participants. Gastrointestinal side effects were more common than expected in trial participants, including cases of constipation severe enough to warrant hospitalization. Bedlack concluded that lunasin was not a useful treatment for ALS and that Mike McDuff likely had some other explanation for his ALS reversal such as an ALS mimic syndrome or a genetic resistance to the disease.
Impact on epigenetic changes
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- "Patent: Lunasin peptides, WO 1999015642 A1".
- De Lumen, Benito O.; Galvez, Alfredo F. (1999). "A soybean cDNA encoding a chromatin-binding peptide inhibits mitosis of mammalian cells". Nature Biotechnology. 17 (5): 495–500. doi:10.1038/8676. PMID 10331812.
- Ortiz-Martinez M, Winkler R, García-Lara S; Winkler; García-Lara (April 2014). "Preventive and therapeutic potential of peptides from cereals against cancer". J Proteomics (Review). 111C: 165–183. doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2014.03.044. PMID 24727098.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
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- Hernández-Ledesma B, Hsieh CC, de Lumen BO; Hsieh; De Lumen (April 2013). "Chemopreventive properties of Peptide Lunasin: a review". Protein Pept. Lett. (Review). 20 (4): 424–32. doi:10.2174/092986613805290327. PMID 23016582.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- ALS 2014;15:622-626