Worried about Drug-Resistant Superbugs? Try Berries!

We have blogged about how bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Some strains of the staphylococcus aureus bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to methicillin, the antibiotic normally used to treat them.  Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) now cause more than 80,000 infections and 11,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

If this continues, common infections and injuries could become fatal for humans.  “On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.”  (U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

Agilent is helping researchers develop next-generation antibiotics.  In addition, scientists have just made a promising discovery: a berry can stop bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

The Brazilian pepper tree (schinus terebinthifolia) is a small, shrub-like tree.  It native to South America, where Brazilians use the bark extract as a traditional medicine to treat wounds, ulcers and infections.  The invasive plant is also found throughout the southern United States, where Americans consider it a noxious weed.

In a recent study, U.S. researchers investigated the pepper tree’s effectiveness against MRSA.  They found that the berries can inhibit the formation of skin lesions in mice infected with the bacteria.  The berries work by repressing a gene that allows MRSA cells to communicate with each other, effectively disarming the bacteria.

The researchers used Agilent Eclipse columns for high-performance liquid chromatography.  They hope their work will lead to the development of future antibiotic and anti-virulence therapies.


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