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Honey Protein could Fight Superbugs and other Infection

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists have discovered how honey fights infection - findings that could also help researchers find ways to kill drug resistant superbugs. Researchers have discovered a protein added to honey by the bees themselves that is a potent antibacterial that could potentially be used to fight superbugs.

Scientists from Amsterdam studied medical grade honey in test tubes against antibiotic resistant bacteria. They were able to attribute the infection fighting power of honey a protein called defensin-1 that could have future applications for treating burns and skin infections.

Sebastian A.J. Zaat, PhD from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam who contributed to the research says, "Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria." Dr. Zaat says isolating the protein "contributes to the applicability of honey in medicine."

The researchers systematically neutralized antibacterial components of honey in the lab to isolate defensin-1.

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The research, published in the FASEB journal, also showed how the immune system of honey bees works. The findings could lead to healthy happy honey bees from breeders. Defensin-1 is part of the honey bee’s immune system that could help humans fight superbugs and other infections.

Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal says, "Now that we've extracted a potent antibacterial ingredient from honey, we can make it still more effective and take the sting out of bacterial infections."

Until now no one knew how honey worked to provide better health. Now researchers have isolated the protein in honey that can fight infection. The study shows that most of the infection fighting powers of honey that could be used against superbugs comes from the defensin-1 protein, part of the bee's immune system.

FASEB Journal