Researchers have discovered that a naturally-occurring compound found in trees is effective in combating superbugs.
Drug-resistant bacteria occur in more than 2.8 million infections and are responsible for 35,000 deaths per year with common antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” causing diseases such as sepsis, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Now scientists at the University of Portsmouth, in a study published in the Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases journal, have found the compound hydroquinine, which can be used to treat malaria in humans, has bacterial killing activity against several microorganisms.
A university spokesman said: “Antimicrobial resistance has become one of the greatest threats to public health globally.
“It occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making it difficult to treat infections. Because of this, there is a pressing need for the development of new antimicrobial drugs to combat infections.”
Working with colleagues at Naresuan and Pibulsongkram Rajabhat Universities in Thailand, the team found that hydroquinine was effective against the pathogen pseudomonas aeruginosa which is associated with high mortality rates of between 30% and 50%.
Dr Robert Baldock, of Portsmouth’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said: “Using bacterial-killing experiments, we found that hydroquinine was able to kill several microorganisms including the common multidrug-resistant pathogen pseudomonas aeruginosa.
“By studying this compound further, our hope is that it may in future offer another line of treatment in combating bacterial infections.”
Dr Jirapas Jongjitwimol, from the Department of Medical Technology at Naresuan University, said: “Our future research aims to uncover the molecular target of hydroquinine.
“This would help our understanding of how the compound works against pathogenic bacteria and how it could potentially be used in a clinical setting.”
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