Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How honey kills bacteria..........

We know that, honey has antibiotic activity and has been used specially in burn injuries. Now researchers lead by Dr.Sebastian A.J. Zaat, of Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, have come up with an explanation for this antibiotic activity of honey. This first explanation to explain how honey kills bacteria. Specifically, the research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections.

"We have completely elucidated the molecular basis of the antibacterial activity of a single medical-grade honey, which contributes to the applicability of honey in medicine," said Dr. Sebastian A.J. Zaat...

To make the discovery, Dr. Zaat and colleagues investigated the antibacterial activity of medical-grade honey in test tubes against a panel of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. They developed a method to selectively neutralize the known antibacterial factors in honey and determine their individual antibacterial contributions. Ultimately, researchers isolated the defensin-1 protein, which is part of the honey bee immune system and is added by bees to honey. All bacteria tested, including Bacillus subtilis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli, ciprofloxacin-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, were killed by 10–20% (v/v) honey, whereas 40% (v/v) of a honey-equivalent sugar solution was required for similar activity.

After analysis, the scientists concluded that the vast majority of honey's antibacterial properties come from that protein. This information also sheds light on the inner workings of honey bee immune systems, which may one day help breeders create healthier and heartier honey bees.

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