Antibiotic-resistance is a worldwide crisis in the making and many researchers are running tirelessly to ready humanity against the challenge. A new weapon in our arsenal now comes from the Brazilian peppertree.
In a paper published in Scientific Reports, American researchers have shown that anextract from the berry of the Brazilian peppertree can affect the dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA ). The flavone-rich compound discovered by the team represses a gene thatallows MRSA to communicate, attaining it easier for the body to fight it off.
“It basically disarms the MRSA bacteria, preventing it from excreting the toxins it employs as weapons to damage tissues, ” Professor Cassandra Quave, senior writer and ethnobotanist at Emory University, said in a statement.”The body’s normal immune system then stands a better chance of healing a wound.”
The team tested the compound on mice with MRSA skin infections. The researchers discovered that the extract staves off infection and doesn’tharm the skin of the mice or the helpful bacteria living on it.
The technique, known as the anti-virulence technique, was also tested on lab-grown human scalp cells and appears to be well tolerated. This is promising news, as even though the extract doesnt kill off the infection, it might make a tremendous change in combination with other therapies.
“In some cases, you need to go in heavily with antibiotics to treat a patient, ” Quave added. “But instead of always setting a bomb off to kill new infections, there are situations where utilizing an anti-virulence method is a possibility just as effective, while also helping to restore balance to the health of a patient. More research is needed to better understand how we can best leverage anti-virulence therapeutics to improve patient outcomes.”
The researchers looked into the Brazilian peppertree because it is used in the Amazon by healers to treat skin and soft tissue infections.
“The Brazilian peppertree is not some exotic and rare plant found only on a remote mountaintop somewhere, ” Quave says. “It’s a weed, and the bane of many a landowner in Florida.”
But its tenacity is likely its strength. “Persistent, weedy plants tend to have a chemical advantage in their ecosystems, whichmay help protect them from cancers so they can more easily spread in a new environment.”
The researchers will now conducted an investigation into pre-medical trials to test its exact medical benefits. Antibiotic resistance causes 2million maladies every year and at least 23, 000 demises in the US alone. According to the UN, it has the potential to kill 10 million people a year by 2050.