By Linda Vezzoli / Nutritional Therapist
Biobran MGN-3 is a Japanese immunomodulator derived from rice bran. This food supplement was developed in the mid-90s by Professor Ghoneum in the US and Dr Maeda in Japan to help support immune function, especially for patients with immune systems compromised by disease and/or toxic treatments. It is a pharmacologically active natural product, sold in 49 countries, and it is safe and non-toxic (1).
The rice bran extract in Biobran has been broken down by an enzyme derived from Shiitake mushroom. The main chemical structure of Biobran (MGN3) is arabinoxylan. Its low molecular weight enables it to be absorbed into the small intestine and then passed into the bloodstream where it helps to activate key immune cells such as dendritic cells (9, 10), B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and Natural Killer Cells (11, 12, and 13).
There are studies to support its usefulness as an adjunct for those undergoing treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis (2), HIV (3), Diabetes type 2 (4, 5), IBS (6), asthma (7) and Hepatitis (8) but the research has been ostensibly focused on raising immunity for those undergoing treatment for cancer. The number of peer-reviewed studies on this natural compound is exceptional (59 so far), allowing doctors and practitioners to recommend it with confidence. It is well established to raise Natural Killer Cell activity (11, 12, 13), which research has demonstrated to have an important role in immune defence against cancer. A 2017 study showed that Biobran/MGN-3 induces a significant increase in NK activity which may increase resistance to viral infections and cancers in the geriatric population.(15). A 2012 study done on healthy adults, it was also concluded that Biobran ‘may not only help to destroy tumor cells and viruses directly, but also increase the activity of immune cells, thereby optimizing the immune system, especially natural killer cells, which can increase the chance and speed of host recovery’. (14)
A 2020 study showed that MGN-3 effectively attenuated radiation-induced changes in the intestinal epithelial mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, inflammatory response, apoptosis, intestinal permeability and barrier function in mice, (16) showing a promising use of Biobran for the protection of our gut health, which is vital for immune health.
Research has also shown that, provided BioBran MGN-3 is regularly included in the diet, this stimulation of the immune system need not decrease over time. This lack of attenuation (or hyporesponsiveness) with prolonged use is extremely unusual for immunomodulatory substances and means that BioBran MGN-3 continues to be an effective supplement over an extended period of time – which is important for long-term treatment plans. NK activity usually peaks around 1 or 2 months after being on a high dose, after which it can be maintained with a smaller maintenance does. The speed at which this peak is initially reached is dose dependant.
Generally, 500mg to 1000mg is recommended per day although, initially, some practitioners will recommend 3000mg a day for the first month or two, and during times of severe immune compromisation.
Clinical data to support Biobran:
There are 59 peer-reviewed published papers on Biobran and some feature on Pubmed. A more comprehensive list of scientific research on Biobran can be found on www.biobran.org
- Acute Oral Toxicity Test
Lab: AMA Laboratories, New York, USA (Ref: WP96-BERN1/LD504881.DP). (Animal Experiment involving rats to determine any potential toxicity of MGN-3. Above material can be classified as non-toxic according to the reference. LD50 > 36.0g / kg.)
- Experience with Administration of Biobran in Patients with Chronic Rheumatism
Author: Kenichi Ichihashi (Ichihashi Clinic)
Journal: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapy Vol. 14/No.4
- Anti-HIV activity in vitro of MGN-3, an activated arabinoxylan from rice bran
Author: M. Ghoneum
Journal: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Journal 243, 25-29 (1998), Article No. RC978047. (This is a detailed write up of the abstract Ghoneum presented in July 1996 at the International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver.)
- Modified Rice Bran Improves Glucose Tolerance in NIDDM Adult Rats Given Streptozotocin as Neonates
Authors: Ohara, K. Onai and H. Maeda, 2002
- Hyrolyzed rice bran reduces the aggravation of protein metabolism in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats
Presenters: Kitamura N., Ohara I., (Aichi Gakusen University) and Maeda H. (Daiwa Pharmaceutical)
Event: 45th Annual Meeting of the American College of Nutrition in California. Kitamura 2004
- Therapeutic Effects of Biobran, Modified Arabinoxylan Rice Bran, in Improving Symptoms of Diarrhea Predominant or Mixed Type Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Pilot, Randomized Controlled Study
Authors: Takeshi Kamiya, Michiko Shikano, Mamoru Tanaka, Keiji Ozeki, Masahide Ebi, Takahito Katano, Shingo Hamano, Hirotaka Nishiwaki, Hironobu Tsukamoto, Tsutomu Mizoshita, Yoshinori Mori, Eiji Kubota, Satoshi Tanida, Hiromi Kataoka, Noriaki Okuda, and Takashi Joh
Journal: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / Hindawi Publishing Corporation Volume 2014, Article ID 828137, 6 pages
- Evaluation of the effects of asthma prevention and symptom reduction by enzymatically modified rice-bran foods in asthmatic model mice
Presenters: Kanbayashi H. and Endo Y., Department of Pathological Molecular Medicine, McMaster University
Event: 52nd Conference of Japanese Society of Allergology, Jokohama, Japan
- Protective effect of low molecular fraction of MGN-3, a modified arabinoxylan from rice bran, on acute liver injury by inhibition of NF-kB and JNK/MAPK expression
Presenters: Surina Zheng, Shunsuke Sugita, Shizuka Hirai, Yukari Egashira
Event: International Immunopharmacology 14 (2012) 764–769
- Biobran-augmented maturation of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells
Authors: D. Cholujova, J. Jakugikova, J. Sedlak
Journal: Neoplasma 56, 2, 2009.
- Activation of Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells In Vitro by the Biological Response Modifier Arabinoxylan Rice Bran (MGN-3/Biobran)
Authors: M. Ghoneum and S. Agrawal
Journal: Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Vol.24, no.4, 941-948 (2011)
- Enhancement of Natural Killer Cell Activity of Aged Mice by Modified arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN3/Biobran)
Authors: Ghoneum, Abedi
Journal: J Pharm Pharmacol 2004;56:1581-8.
- Evalutation of flow cytometry-based assay for natural killer cell activity in clinical settings
Authors: Valiathan, Lewis, Melillo, Leonard, Alis, Asthana
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 2011; 1365-3083
- Arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN3/Biobran) enhances natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity against neuroblastoma in vitro and in vivo.
Authors: Perez-Martinez, Valentin, Fernandez, Hernandez-Jimenez, Lopez-Collezo, Zerbes, Schworer, Nunez, Martin, Sallis, Diaz, Handgretinger and Pfeiffer.
Journal: Cytotherapy, 2015, 0:1-2.
- An Open-label, randomized clinical trial to assess the immunomodulatory activity of a novel oligosaccharide compound in healthy adult
Authors: K. H. Ali, A. B. Melillo, S. M. Leonard, D. Asthana, Judi M. Woolger, A. H. Wolfson, H. R. McDaniel, J. E. Lewis
Journal: Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2012, 2(7): 265-279
- Biobran/MGN-3, an arabinoxylan rice bran, enhances NK cell activity in geriatric subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
Authors: AHMED F. ELSAID, MAGDA SHAHEEN and MAMDOOH GHONEUM(edited by Chris Gutch PhD.)2017
- Arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN-3/Biobran) alleviates radiation-induced intestinal barrier dysfunction of mice in a mitochondrion-dependent manner
Authors: Zhao Z, Cheng W, Qu W, Wang K
Journal: Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Apr;124:109855. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.109855. Epub 2020 Jan 24.