Manuka\n honey could be an efficient way to clear chronically infected wounds \nand could even help reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics, \naccording to research presented at the Society for General \nMicrobiology\\\'s Spring Conference in Harrogate.
Professor\n Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff is looking \nat how manuka honey interacts with three types of bacteria that commonly\n infest wounds: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Group A Streptococci and Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).\n Her group has found that honey can interfere with the growth of these \nbacteria in a variety of ways and suggests that honey is an attractive \noption for the treatment of drug-resistant wound infections.
Honey\n has long been acknowledged for its antimicrobial properties. \nTraditional remedies containing honey were used in the topical treatment\n of wounds by diverse ancient civilisations. Manuka honey is derived \nfrom nectar collected by honey bees foraging on the manuka tree in New \nZealand and is included in modern licensed wound-care products around \nthe world. However, the antimicrobial properties of honey have not been \nfully exploited by modern medicine as its mechanisms of action are not \nyet known.
Professor\n Cooper\\\'s group is helping to solve this problem by investigating at a \nmolecular level the ways in which manuka honey inhibits wound-infecting \nbacteria. \\\"Our findings with streptococci and pseudomonads suggest that\n manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues which is \nan essential step in the initiation of acute infections. Inhibiting \nattachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect \nbacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent \ninfections,\\\" explained Professor Cooper. \\\"Other work in our lab has \nshown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as \noxacillin -- effectively reversing antibiotic resistance. This indicates\n that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant \ninfections if used in combination with manuka honey.\\\"
This\n research may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are \nfaced with the threat of diminishingly effective antimicrobial options. \n\\\"We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections \nthat are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance. \nWe have already demonstrated that manuka honey is not likely to select \nfor honey-resistant bacteria,\\\" said Professor Cooper. At present, most \nantimicrobial interventions for patients are with systemic antibiotics. \n\\\"The use of a topical agent to eradicate bacteria from wounds is \npotentially cheaper and may well improve antibiotic therapy in the \nfuture. This will help reduce the transmission of antibiotic-resistant \nbacteria from colonised wounds to susceptible patients.\\\"