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MRSA May Succumb to Honey

Anti-microbial benefits of New Zealand variety extend to staph infections, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Manuka honey, known for its anti-microbial properties, might kill MRSA bacteria.

A new study from the University of Wales Institute-Cardiff suggests that the honey, made solely from flowers found on the New Zealand manuka bush, inhibits several proteins, especially the FabI protein, which is needed for fatty acid biosynthesis. The study was to be presented this week at a meeting in Scotland of the Society for General Microbiology.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a potentially deadly bacterial infection that defies many treatments. Most MRSA infections occur in hospitals or other health-care settings.

Proponents of alternative therapies tout the benefits of manuka honey as a wound dressing, claiming it has substantial anti-microbial benefits. The manuka bush is also known as the tea tree bush, and its oil is used in many toiletries.

The researchers treated MRSA samples with manuka for four hours. They then repeated the experiment with sugar syrup to determine if the anti-microbial effects were caused by sugars in the honey.

After breaking down the bacterial cells, the researchers noted far fewer proteins in the manuka culture, especially FabI. Their absence could help explain manuka honey's method of killing MRSA, they said.

"Manuka and other honeys have been known to have wound healing and anti-bacterial properties for some time," researcher Rowena Jenkins said in a news release from the society.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on MRSA infections.

SOURCE: Society for General Microbiology, news release, Sept. 6, 2009
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