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  Common weed could help fight deadly superbug, study finds

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PostSubject: Common weed could help fight deadly superbug, study finds    Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:57 pm

The red berries of a weed found in the southern United States contain an compound that can disarm a deadly superbug, according to research published Friday.



Researchers from Emory University and the University of Iowa found that extracts from the Brazilian peppertree, which traditional healers in the Amazon have used for hundreds of years to treat skin and soft-tissue infections, have the power to stop methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in mice. The study was published in Nature's Scientific Reports.

Cassandra Quave, an Emory University scientist who studies how indigenous people use plants in healing practices, said researchers pulled apart the chemical ingredients of the berries and tested them in mice infected with these superbug strains. The mice got injections containing the bacteria with or without the plant extracts. Those that didn't receive the extracts developed skin lesions. But in the other mice, the extracts -- a mixture of 27 chemicals -- prevented skin lesions from forming.

Instead of destroying the bacteria, the ingredients in the fruit weakened the bacteria by preventing them from producing the toxins it uses as weapons to damage tissue. The extracts from the fruit repress a gene that allows the bacterial cells to communicate with one another.

“It weakens the bacteria so the mouse’s own defenses work better” to clear the infection, she said. The plant extracts didn't harm the skin tissues or the normal, healthy bacteria found on skin.

The discovery may hold the potential for new ways to treat and prevent antimicrobial-resistant infections, an enormous global problem that was the focus of a rare high-level United Nations summit last fall.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/02/10/common-weed-could-help-fight-deadly-superbug-study-finds/?tid=pm_national_pop
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