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Researchers Isolate Compound In Honey With Antibacterial Powers

July 1, 2010: 09:41 AM EST
Scientists have known for some time that honey has a therapeutic effect on infections, but until now no one knew why. In a U.S. study, scientists have identified an ingredient – defensin-1, added to honey by bees – that acts as a potent antibiotic and might be used someday against drug-resistant bacteria. The researchers analyzed the antibacterial action of medical-grade honey in test tubes against various antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. They eventually isolated the defensin-1 protein, a constituent of the honey bee immune system, and concluded that most of honey's antibacterial properties come from it. "Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria," a researcher says. Their findings may also help breed healthier honey bees, they say.
Paulus H. S. Kwakman, Anje A. te Velde, Leonie de Boer, Dave Speijer, Christina M. J. E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, and Sebastian A. J. Zaat, "How honey kills bacteria", FASEB Journal, July 01, 2010, © FASEB
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