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May 24, 2007

Cranberries & Grapes Proven Virus Fighters

Study on Mice Has Potential to Help Millions of People

Brooklyn Heights, NY - Every year, millions of people across the world are infected by intestinal viruses that cause debilitating diarrhea. New research into the preventative powers of cranberries and Concord grapes by professors at St. Francis College shows promise to help fight these viruses and to shorten tens of thousands of hospital stays in the United States and possibly prevent thousands of deaths worldwide every year.

In experiments on lab mice, St. Francis College Biology Professor Dr. Steven M. Lipson and Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Studies Dr. Allen Burdowski found that by inoculating mice with cranberry juice, and to a lesser extent Concord grape juice -bovine reovirus suspensions, clinical signs of intestinal disease were reduced to non-detectible levels. The bovine reovirus used in these studies is similar to those viral strains causing diarrhea (intestinal disease) in humans.

"The most dangerous part of intestinal viruses is that they cause serious dehydration which leads to countless other serious and life-threatening problems," said Professor Burdowski. "Cranberry and grape juices appear to reduce reovirus infection thereby preventing the effects of dehydration."

"We were actually surprised at just how effective cranberry juice was in both preventing the virus from establishing a foothold and inhibiting the virus from producing disease in the mice," said Professor Lipson, the Principle Investigator of the study. "We've had great success in test tube experiments, but to replicate and exceed our findings in live mice shows great promise to treat millions of people throughout the world who commonly suffer from the ill effects of intestinal disease."

The study, funded by the Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists (MACUB) and faculty research grants from St. Francis College was presented May 23rd, in Toronto, Canada at the 107th General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology.

To conduct the study, mice were divided into separate groups. Mice were inoculated with reovirus alone, or cranberry juice plus the virus. Within three to four days, mice that received no juice treatment came down with diarrhea, were dehydrated, and suffered from system-wide hemorrhaging that caused death. Those mice treated with the combination of cranberry juice plus the reovirus suffered no outward disease effects.

After autopsies, mice that were treated with cranberry juice plus virus had normal intestines and no signs of viral-induced diarrhea. Mice that were given virus alone showed signs of intestinal distress.

The lab mice experiment builds on previous research that was conducted in test tubes. The next step is to perform clinical trials in humans.

In the United States, intestinal viruses that cause diarrhea are responsible for about 55,000 hospital visits a year, mostly among infants and toddlers. Worldwide, such intestinal viruses cause as many as 600,000 deaths a year, mostly in poorer countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Mouse testing was performed at New York University. The animal testing was approved by the University Animal Welfare Committee, under New York State and federal guidelines."

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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