Tag Archives: e coli

The fight against hospital superbugs

Scientists have made an advance in the fight against resistant hospital superbugs.

The team from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast has developed the first innovative antibacterial gel that acts to kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa, staphylococci and E.coli using natural proteins.

They say the gels have the ability to break down the thick jelly-like coating, known as biofilms, which cover bacteria, making them highly resistant to current treatments, while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

Dr Garry Laverty from QUB, the lead researcher of the project, said when bacteria attach to surfaces, including medical implants such as hip replacements and catheters, they produce a jelly-like substance called the biofilm.

“This protective layer is almost impossible for current antibiotics to penetrate through. Therefore, bacteria deep within this protective layer are resistant as they remain unexposed to the therapy. They grow and thrive on surfaces to cause infections that are very difficult to treat.”

E.coli bacteria

E.coli bacteria

“The only option is often to remove the medical implant leading to further pain and discomfort for the patient. Our gels would prevent this”

Dr Lafferty said the gels are unique as they target and kill the most resistant forms of hospital superbugs.The gels are composed of the building blocks of natural proteins, called peptides.

“These are same ingredients that form human tissue. These molecules are modified slightly in the laboratory to allow them to form gels that will rapidly kill bacteria. .”

The research is part of an international collaboration between the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s and the School of Chemistry at Brandeis University, Waltham, USA. It will be published in the journal Biomacromolecules next month.

Cinnamon can act as an anti-bacterial agent

Cinnamon can not only tickle your taste buds, the ancient cooking spice is also an effective anti-bacterial agent and can help prevent some of the most serious food-borne illnesses caused by pathogenic bacteria, says a study.

Cinnamomum cassia oil can work effectively as a natural anti-bacterial agent in the food industry, the findings showed.

“The oil can be incorporated into films and coatings for packaging both meat and fresh produce,” said Lina Sheng from the Washington State University.

“It can also be added into the washing step of meat, fruits or vegetables to eliminate micro-organisms,” Sheng added.

In the study, the essential oil killed several strains of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E coli), known to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “non-O157 STEC.”



The study looked at the top six strains of non-O157 STEC.

The cinnamon cassia oil is effective in low concentrations, Sheng said. About 10 drops diluted in a litre of water killed the bacteria within 24 hours.

Rising health concerns about chemical additives have strengthened demand for natural food additives, Meijun Zhu, an assistant professor at the Washington State University noted.

“Our focus is on exploring plant-derived natural food bioactive compounds as anti-microbials to control food-borne pathogens, in order to ensure safety of fresh produce,” she added.

Cassia cinnamon is produced primarily in Indonesia and has a stronger smell than the other common cinnamon variety, Ceylon.

The study appeared online in the journal Food Control.