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Honey can fight drug-resistant bugs


Manuka honey’s healing power has long been recognised, but now researchers from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, have found it fights three types of bacteria that commonly infect wounds, including the notorious MRSA “superbug”.

It works by preventing the attachment of bacteria to tissues – an essential step in the infection process.

Experts have so far been unable to fully understand why the honey – which is produced by bees from the nectar of the manuka tree in New Zealand – is so effective at healing wounds.

Professor Rose Cooper said: “Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections.

“Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance.

“This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.”

The findings were presented at the spring conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate.

Prof Cooper said the research may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are faced with increasingly resistant microbes.

“We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance,” she said.

“We have already demonstrated that manuka honey is not likely to select for honey-resistant bacteria.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

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