SEP 20, 2022 1:49 PM PDT

Manuka Honey Helps Treat Drug Resistant Lung Infections

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Experts are warning that the number of drug-resistant bacterial infections will increase in the coming years, and these dangerous illnesses already claim the lives of tens of thousands of people every year. While scientists are well aware of the problem and have been searching for new antibiotics, novel drugs are difficult and expensive to create, and they don't always work well in the end. Some success has been found with drug combinations, and there are candidates in development. Now scientists have also found that natural, manuka honey, which is known to have a broad-spectrum antibacterial effect, can be useful in the treatment of deadly lung infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus. The honey also lowers the risk of side effects posed by a drug that is now used to treat those infections. The findings have been reported in the journal Microbiology.

Image credit: Pixabay

Honey is known to stimulate the immune system. Manuka honey is made from the Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) plant, whicih orignated in New Zealand. Manuka honey has been shown to inhibit an array of bacterial and yeast pathogens, including multi-drug resistant bacteria. It can prevent biofilm formation or interfere with formed biofilms.

M. abscessus infections tend to affect cystic fibrosis (CF) or bronchiectasis patients. The bacterium is also very resistant to a variety of drugs. CF patients carry a genetic mutation that interferes with their ability to clear mucus from the lungs. This buildup of mucus greatly increases their risk of lung infections. It can be nearly impossible to get cure M. abscessus infections in CF patients, and when these individuals need a lung transplant, they can't get one if they have the infection.

This research used several lab assays to show that when manuka honey was combined with an antibiotic called amikacin, M. abscessus growth was inhibited. These tests included M. abscessus pathogens that had been isolated from 16 different samples taken from CF patients.

Manuka honey was formulated to be used in a nebulizer in this study, so it could potentially be inhaled by patients with a lung infection, and it was combined with amikacin. When honey and amikacin were used in a nebulizer together, they were able to clear the bacterial infection at lower doses of amikacin than those that are normally needed. Thus, patients that might be treated in this way are less likely to experience side effects from amikacin.

Right now, people with M. abscessus infections are treated with an antibiotic cocktail for more than a year, and that approach is not always successful. Amikacin doses tend to be around 16 micrograms per milliliter. In this study, the researchers were able to eliminate M. abscessus with only two micrograms per milliliter of amikacin by combining the drug with manuka honey.

"This [research] has the potential to significantly reduce amikacin-associated hearing loss and greatly improve the quality of life of so many patients, particularly those with cystic fibrosis," noted senior study author Dr. Jonathan Cox of Aston University. "I am delighted with the outcome of this research because it paves the way for future experiments and we hope that with funding we can move towards clinical trials that could result in a change in strategy for the treatment of this debilitating infection."

Sources: Aston University, Microbiology

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 12, 2022
Health & Medicine
Cavity-Causing Germs Can Form Superorganisms Able to Crawl on Teeth
OCT 12, 2022
Cavity-Causing Germs Can Form Superorganisms Able to Crawl on Teeth
Scientists have found that bacteria and fungi in the human mouth can join forces to form a superorganism that is stronge ...
OCT 16, 2022
Microbiology
How Cells Neutralize Hepatitis B Virus
OCT 16, 2022
How Cells Neutralize Hepatitis B Virus
WHO has estimated that there are almost 300 million people with chronic hepatitis B infections, and there are around 1.5 ...
NOV 02, 2022
Health & Medicine
[White Paper] Optimizing Sequencing Costs in Metagenomics. How to Reduce Costs of Pathogen Detection with PaRTI-Seq™
NOV 02, 2022
[White Paper] Optimizing Sequencing Costs in Metagenomics. How to Reduce Costs of Pathogen Detection with PaRTI-Seq™
Optimizing sequencing costs in metagenomics: How to reduce costs of pathogen detection in with PaRTI-Seq™ Pathogen ...
OCT 31, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Ancient Viral DNA in Our Genome Has a Protective Function
OCT 31, 2022
Ancient Viral DNA in Our Genome Has a Protective Function
There is viral DNA in the human genome, and each instance traces back to an ancestor who was infected with a retrovirus. ...
NOV 02, 2022
Microbiology
RSV & Influenza Can Combine to Form a New, Hybrid Virus
NOV 02, 2022
RSV & Influenza Can Combine to Form a New, Hybrid Virus
While different strains of influenza virus can co-infect cells and form hybrid flus, virus co-infections have tended to ...
NOV 28, 2022
Microbiology
A Vaccine to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections is in Development
NOV 28, 2022
A Vaccine to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections is in Development
New research has shown that a vaccine for the bacteria commonly associated with urinary tract infections works in animal ...
Loading Comments...