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article imageDoes breast milk hold the clue for fighting superbugs?

By Tim Sandle     May 6, 2013 in Health
Some scientists have argued that a protein complex found in human breast milk can help challenge the antibiotic resistance of several bacterial species, including those known to cause hospital related infections.
A protein complex found in the breast milk of mothers, called Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor Cells (HAMLET), appears to increase the sensitivity of certain bacteria to multiple classes of antibiotics, such as penicillin and erythromycin. Bacteria seem to have difficulty developing resistance to HAMLET.
HAMLET kills bacteria by triggering a chain of chemical reactions that cause the bacterial cell to self-destruct. HAMLET is also a novel chemotherapeutic agent with potent tumoricidal properties (that it, it could act against certain cancers).
In essence, HAMLET has the potential to minimize the concentrations of antibiotics needed to use to fight infections. The protein complex could also mean that well-established antibiotics, to which several so-called ‘superbugs’ have become resistant to, could be used again against resistant strains.
Based on laboratory studies, HAMLET lowered the dose of antibiotics needed to fight two superbugs: Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus by as much as a factor of eight or more.
It should be noted that the research relates to studies carried out in a laboratory, where the protein was isolated and challenged against pure bacterial cultures. The observed effect may not work the same way in an infant’s own system. Nonetheless, the finding could form the basis of a novel drug treatment.
The study was undertaken at the University at Buffalo. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
More about Breast milk, Superbugs, Infection, Protein
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