From: Kofi on

Honey as an Antibiotic: Scientists Identify a Secret Ingredient in Honey
That Kills Bacteria

ScienceDaily (July 12, 2010) � Sweet news for those looking for new
antibiotics: A new research published in the July 2010 print edition of
the FASEB Journal explains for the first time 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 Sebastian A.J. Zaat, Ph.D., a
researcher involved in the work from the Department of Medical
Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. "Honey or
isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention
and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

To make the discovery, 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. 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.

"We've known for millennia that honey can be good for what ails us, but
we haven't known how it works," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D.,
Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, "Now that we've extracted a potent
antibacterial ingredient from honey, we can make it still more effective
and take the sting out of bacterial infections."


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily
staff) from materials provided by Federation of American Societies for
Experimental Biology, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


Journal Reference:

1. P. H. S. Kwakman, A. A. te Velde, L. de Boer, D. Speijer, C. M. J. E.
Vandenbroucke-Grauls, S. A. J. Zaat. How honey kills bacteria. The FASEB
Journal, 2010; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-150789