What is Lunasin?


Lunasin is a novel anti-cancer peptide (small protein) composed of 43-amino acids. This unique sequence includes 8 aspartic acid residues at the carboxyl end, preceded by a cell adhesion motif (RGD) and a predicted helical region that has a sequence similar to proteins known to bind to chromatin.

Initially discovered in soybean, Lunasin is now found in a number of seeds such as wheat, barley, amaranth, black nightshade, pinto bean, corn and rye. Studies have shown that Lunasin plays a role in seed development and is it therefore proposed that Lunasin should be found in all seeds – this has proven true so far.

Model courtesy of SWISS-MODEL program: Arnold K., Bordoli L., Kopp J., and Schwede T. (2006)


How does Lunasin work?


Extensive research performed in the laboratory of Prof. Ben de Lumen at the University of California Berkeley, shows that Lunasin internalizes inside the cell and ends up mostly in the nucleus; inhibiting core histone acetylation and activating tumor suppressor genes such as PTEN.

Lunasin selectively inhibits transcription, a dynamic process that occurs at various locations and at different times in the cell and is initiated by unfolding of the chromosomes; a process facilitated by histone acetylation.

It is proposed that during the initiation of the carcinogenic process that involves transcription, the dynamic process of histone acetylation-deacetylation is disrupted. This evidence demonstrates that the molecular mechanism for Lunasin is profound, compared to other cancer preventative agents in that it selectively kills cells that are transforming into cancer cells, without affecting normal cells.



Epigenetic Mechanism


Since Lunasin has a unique epigenetic mechanism that interferes at the very early stages of the carcinogenic process, this suggests that Lunasin is non tissue-specific and would be effective against different types of cancer. In addition, Lunasin has no known toxic effects, which is consistent with its presence in soybean that has been consumed in Asia for centuries.

The novel mechanism of action by Lunasin makes it an important research tool in understanding epigenetic control of gene expression during cancer development. Together with powerful tools in genomics and proteomics, Lunasin can be used to identify potential drug targets and diagnostic biomarkers.


Benefits of Lunasin


The following list includes some of the many benefits of Lunasin while on going in-depth research continues to uncover more.


  • Bio-active peptide with an epigenetic mode of action
  • Natural component of soy and other seeds – favorable public perception
  • GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA
  • Ideal chemo-preventative agent to fight skin cancer
  • Extends cell longevity (anti-aging) *Unpublished
  • Anti-oxidant effect: especially protects DNA from oxidation as well lipids
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Effective dose is minimal
  • Non-invasive treatment