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Manuka honey offers new hope in fight against superbug

Manuka honey offers new hope in fight against superbug

Manuka honey may offer new hope in the global search for ways to tackle life-threatening superbugs.

Recent research in New Zealand has shown that a manuka honey–based formulation with CycloPower™ inhibits the growth of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Manuka honey expert Dr Lynne Chepulis, senior lecturer at Rotorua’s Waiariki Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Health, Education and Humanities, says the unique antibacterial activity of manuka honey has been known for many years.

“But what’s really exciting about this work is that combining manuka honey with CycloPower ™ has been shown in the lab to be even more effective in inhibiting the growth of MRSA,” she says.

Manuka Honey with CycloPower™ employs a novel delivery method in which the active antibacterial ingredient in manuka honey, methylglyoxal, is combined with beneficial natural fibre (cyclodextrins) to increase its activity.

Manuka honey with CycloPower ™ is a proprietary product developed by New Zealand biotechnology company Manuka Health, which commissioned the University of Auckland to conduct this research.

Manuka Health’s Research and Development Manager Dr Mandy Suddes says the finding that manuka honey is active against MRSA is very positive news.
“This research has paved the way for development of a new manuka honey with CycloPower ™ product, which is soon to be clinically trialled.”

The product, a nasal cream, aims to help eliminate MRSA from the nasal passages of people who test positive for the superbug.

New Zealand infection control specialist and peri-operative nurse Elsie Truter, a lecturer at Waiariki Technical Institute, says the greatest risk of spreading MRSA around the body is from the nose.

She says people can be carriers of MRSA and show no signs of infection. However, if the superbug gets into an open wound it can cause infection.

“Before surgery, we screen patients for nasal MRSA. If they test positive, we eliminate it from the nasal passages using the antibiotic mupiricin. But I am absolutely sure it’s only a matter of time before resistance develops to this antibiotic,” says Ms Truter.

“We are working with an ever shrinking arsenal of antibiotics that can be used to treat infections. If we could develop new products that still have bactericidal ability that would be really good. Hopefully, manuka honey will do it. It is showing some interesting results.”

A World Health Organisation global report on antibiotic resistance warned recently that antibiotic resistance posed a serious, worldwide threat to public health. The WHO report estimated that people with MRSA were 64 percent more likely to die than people with a non-resistant form of infection.

Evidence that Manuka Honey with Cyclopower™ inhibits MRSA is an encouraging line of research in the fight against antibiotic resistance superbugs, says Dr Suddes.
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