Thursday, May 2, 2013

Breast-Milk Protein May Help Defeat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

This colorized image depicts numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym.

(ISNS) -- The fight against antibiotic resistance has gained an ally in breast milk. An ingredient found in human milk may make surface infections by the resistant bacteria MRSA more sensitive to attack by antibiotics, a team of researchers from the University at Buffalo, in New York, reports May 1 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The University at Buffalo team added a protein complex -- called HAMLET, after Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumor cells – purified from human milk to aggressive strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Petri dishes and along the inside of the noses of mice. The researchers found that the bacteria were more responsive to antibiotics when they were used in combination with HAMLET.

"It sensitizes the bacteria to the antibiotics that they used to be resistant to, so suddenly, you can use the old [antibiotics] again," said Anders Hakansson, one of the study's authors. He is interested in the properties of human milk that protect infants from infections.  

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