Could a centuries-old remedy help treat modern-day bacteria, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA)?
While it sounds far-fetched, there is truth to the concept.
British researchers recently found that a thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon treatment for eye infections works as an antibiotic against MRSA. MRSA kills more than 5,000 people each year in the U.S.
Christina Lee, a professor in Viking studies at the University of Nottingham, translated the 10th-century recipe — which called for garlic, onion, wine and bile from a cow’s stomach to be brewed in a brass vessel — from a leather-bound volume of Bald’s Leechbook, one of the earliest known medical books.
Lee then enlisted the help of the university’s microbiologists. Microbiologist Freya Harrison, who led the work in the lab at the School of Sciences, and others tested the medieval recipe on cultures of MRSA.
And although the researchers weren’t holding out much hope, “We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab,” Lee said in a press release. The combined ingredients killed nearly all the cells: only about one in 1,000 bacteria survived. The researchers duplicated similar results in three more batches, and U.S. collaborators were successful when they tested the recipe using an “in vivo” wound model.
The team says it now has positive, replicated data showing that the remedy kills up to 90 percent of MRSA bacteria in “in vivo” wound biopsies from mice, reports CNN.
“Obviously you can never say with utter certainty that because it works in the lab it’s going to work as an antibiotic,” said Harrison. “But the potential of this to take on to the next stage and say, ‘yeah, it really does work as an antibiotic’ is just beyond my wildest dreams, to be honest.”
The research results were presented at the Annual Conference of the Society of General Microbiology, in Birmingham yesterday.
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Filed Under: Drug Discovery