A new research found an unlikely ally in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria or superbugs. These unlikely helpers are the Brazilian peppertree berries, more exactly, the red ones.
Brazilian peppertrees are an usual element in the Amazonian healing methods. For hundreds of years, its products were used in treating various affections. These included soft tissue and skin infections. But in the United States, this peppertree is mostly known as an invader.
The Brazilian peppertree is most commonly found in Florida. It is a woody, weedy plant that forms dense thickets. But its red berries have recently been proven quite helpful.
Research on the matter was carried out by Emory University and University of Iowa researchers. They were led by Cassandra Quave. She is a Dermatology Assistant Professor at the University. Study results were released earlier this week. They were published in the Scientific Reports journal.
Available online since February 10, the paper was titled as follows. “Virulence Inhibitors from Brazilian Peppertree Block Quorum Sensing and Abate Dermonecrosis in Skin Infection Models”.
The researchers targeted the use of the Brazilian peppertree berries in treating skin lesions. They analyzed the berries. And came up with a flavone-rich, refined composition.
This was later analyzed through a series of lab tests. Its efficiency was proven in treating mice. These were infected with MRSA. This is the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
The Brazilian peppertree berries extract works by blocking. It does not kill the MRSA bacteria. Instead, it helps block its effects. It does so by repressing a specific gene. This latter help the bacteria cells communicate between one another.
By blocking this connection, the bacteria cells lose their collective response. They are prevented from working as a whole. And instead, can be treated individually. This communication mechanism was named quorum quenching.
Quave, the aforementioned lead, offered some further details. According to her, the Brazilian peppertree berries can help block this communication. Which basically disarms the MRSA bacteria.
It does so as it stops it from excreting toxins. These are used to damage the tissues. The communication blockage is an advantage for the immune system. It should stand a better chance at healing and treating a wound.
This discovery may potentially open up a new way in fighting superbugs. These antibiotic-resistant infections have been growing in numbers. And are starting to become a national and also international problem.
By finding a new prevention and treatment method, specialists could be better prepared to deal with them. Presently used methods blast them with medicine. But this may potentially help fuel the drug-resistance.
It does so as the stronger bacteria survive the treatment. They can later pass on their resistance. And lead to the appearance of new drug-resistant bacteria.
The Brazilian peppertree berries offer a new alternative. Instead of killing, they help disrupt the bacteria. And also help the body better deal with it.
Research on the matter also found that the used extract does not harm the skin tissues. Nor does it impend upon the healthy, normal bacteria that can be found on the skin.
According to Quave, more research on the matter would nonetheless be needed. This could help determine how to best use it. Its anti-virulence therapeutics effects could help improve patient outcomes.
Brazilian peppertrees are native to South America. But they started spreading to the United States as well. Besides Florida, the Brazilian peppertree can also be found in California. And in Georgia, Texas, and Alabama as well. It is also known as the broad leaf peppertree or the Florida holly.
Additional research on the matter is looking to ensure its safe and efficient usage. If the red berries extract proves to be safe, it could be followed by pre-clinical trials. These would test its medical benefits. Which could, later on, be followed by clinical trials.
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