A Brazilian weed proved to be effective in combating a dangerous superbug. The red berries of a plant which grows in the southern United States contain a particular substance which can disable a deadly bug. New research in this respect was published on February 10.
Scientists from the University of Iowa and Emory University have revealed that extracts from the Brazilian pepper tree are strong enough to stop methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in mice. This plant was used for hundreds of years by traditional healers in the Amazon to treat skin infections.
The new study was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports. Cassandra Quave is a scientist at Emory University who analyzes the use of plants in healing practices. She stated that scientists analyzed the chemical composition of these red berries and then tested their effect on mice which were infected with Staphylococcus aureus strain.
The mice were injected with this bacterium. Some of the injections contained plant extracts while some did not. Those mice which did not receive the treatment developed skin diseases. Nevertheless, the mice which got the plant extracts did not develop any skin condition. Instead of killing the bacteria, the chemicals in the Brazilian weed weakened the bacteria, by disabling them from eliminating the toxins which damage the tissues.
The extracts from these fruits are bound to deter the genes which allow the bacterial cells to communicate with each other. Quave also argued that the plant extracts weaken the bacteria to allow the mouse’s immune system to fight against the disease, clearing the infection. The plant extracts do not cause harm to skin tissues or other normal bacteria present at the level of the skin.
This finding may help scientists develop new methods to prevent and treat antimicrobial-resistant diseases. This is a massive worldwide problem which was the focus of a high-level United Nations summit last year. This dangerous virus became a serious threat to humans. Back in 2011, MRSA infected about 80,000 people, and more than 11,000 individuals died in the United States.
Antimicrobial resistance refers to infections which have enabled the ability to surpass drugs which need to annihilate them. The treatment contains antibiotics which fight against the bacteria just like drugs fight against parasitic, viral or fungal infections.
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