Bees help to beat MRSA bugs

Jun 28, 2010

Bees could have a key role to play in urgently-needed new treatments to fight the virulent MRSA bug, according to research led at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

The scientists found that a substance known as beeglue or propolis, originating from beehives in the Pacific region, was active against , which causes potentially fatal infections, particularly in hospital patients.

The bug was either the underlying cause or a contributory factor in more than 1,900 deaths between 1996 and 2008.

The research, published in Phytotherapy Research journal, is an example of the pioneering work of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences in developing new medicines for illnesses and conditions including , cancer, , and . An £8 million fundraising campaign is underway for the Institute's new £36 million building, to expand and enhance its innovative research and education in medicine discovery, development and use.

Dr Véronique Seidel, a Lecturer in Natural Products Chemistry at the Institute, led the research. She said: "MRSA can have a devastating impact on people who contract it and on their families, often compounding illnesses they already have.

"One of the few available drugs to treat MRSA infections is an antibiotic called vancomycin. But new strains have been emerging which show limited susceptibility, or even resistance, to vancomycin.

"This means that there is a pressing need to discover and develop alternatives to current anti-MRSA drugs. We investigated propolis, as part of a programme aimed at discovering new antibiotics from natural sources, because bees use it as an antiseptic glue to seal gaps between honeycombs and preserve their hives from microbial contamination.

"Beeglue is also a natural remedy widely-used in folk medicine for a variety of ailments but little has been known until now about its capacity to target MRSA. Our results have been highly encouraging and we will be taking our research further to understand how active substances in propolis work and to seek the treatments which patients urgently require."

The Strathclyde researchers have been working in partnership with Nature's Laboratory in North Yorkshire, England, a world leader in propolis research and campaigner for deeper scientific understanding of natural medicines. They tested extracts of propolis on 15 MRSA strains obtained from the NHS and isolated two compounds, Propolin C and Propolin D, which showed good activity against all the MRSA strains tested.

The research is the first to report anti-MRSA activity in propolis originating from the Pacific region and the first to describe the anti-MRSA properties of Propolin C and Propolin D. These could possibly act as templates for the development of improved anti-MRSA agents.

Explore further: UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting on Ebola

More information: The research paper, Antimethicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Activity of 'Pacific Propolis' and Isolated Prenylflavanones, has been published in the Phytotherapy Research journal. It can be seen at (DOI:10.1002/ptr.3096)

Provided by University of Strathclyde

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MRSA strain linked to high death rates

Nov 01, 2009

A strain of MRSA that causes bloodstream infections is five times more lethal than other strains and has shown to have some resistance to the potent antibiotic drug vancomycin used to treat MRSA, according to a Henry Ford ...

Could fungal collection hold the key to new life-saving drugs?

Jun 13, 2007

Scientists may be one step closer to finding new drugs to fight MRSA, cancers and other diseases, after CABI, a leading bioservices organisation announced that its fungal collection will be screened by the University of Strathclyde.

Staph infections carry long-term risks

Jul 03, 2008

Patients who harbor the highly contagious bacterium causing staph infections can develop serious and sometimes deadly symptoms a year or longer after initial detection, a UC Irvine infectious disease researcher has found.

Being an MRSA carrier increases risk of infection and death

Jul 02, 2008

Patients harboring methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for long periods of time continue to be at increased risk of MRSA infection and death, according to a new study in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Di ...

Recommended for you

Obama to announce major Ebola effort

5 hours ago

US President Barack Obama will Tuesday seek to "turn the tide" in the Ebola epidemic by ordering 3,000 US military personnel to West Africa and launching a major health care training and hygiene program.

Sierra Leone: WHO too slow to help doc with Ebola

15 hours ago

Sierra Leone accused the World Health Organization on Monday of being "sluggish" in facilitating an evacuation of a doctor who died from Ebola before she could be sent out of the country for medical care.

Dutch doctors feared to have Ebola leave hospital

15 hours ago

Two Dutch doctors flown home from west Africa after fears they might have been contaminated with the killer Ebola virus have left hospital "in good health," their employer, the Lion Heart Medical Centre, said Monday.

Strategic self-sabotage? MRSA inhibits its own growth

20 hours ago

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario have uncovered a bacterial mystery. Against all logic, the most predominant strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in North American produces an enzyme ...

User comments : 0