18.2.2011 Honey as an antibiotic

A new research published in the FASEB Journal shows for the first time how honey can kill bacteria. Bees produce a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1. Scientist suppose that it to could one day be used to develop new drugs that could fight antibiotic-resistant infections. Natural medicine already uses honey to treat burns and skin infections.

"Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria." said Sebastian A.J. Zaat, Ph.D., a researcher at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The scientists developed a method to selectively neutralize the known antibacterial factors in honey and determine their individual antibacterial contributions. Finally, they isolated the defensin-1 protein, which is part of the honey bee immune system and is added by bees to honey. This information also shows us more about the inner workings of the honey bee's immune system, which could help breeders create healthier and heartier bees in the future.

"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.

EurekAlert: "Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria" www.eurekalert.org
The Faseb journal: "How honey kills bacteria"

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