Brazilian peppertree extract proves effective at fending off MRSA

A refined extract from red berries of the Brazilian peppertree inhibited methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auereus in mice, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The Brazilian peppertree is a weedy shrub native to Florida. Traditional healers in the Amazon have used the plant for centuries.

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To determine whether the plant's botanical properties could be used to treat drug-resistant infections, researchers extracted a refined flavone-rich composition from the plant's berries. When introduced to MRSA-infected mice, the extract inhibited the formation of infection-related skin lesions. Researchers found the compound contains anti-virulence properties, meaning it disrupts the ability of the bacteria's cells to communicate with one another, thereby preventing the excretion of toxins used to damage tissues.

"In some cases, you need to go in heavily with antibiotics to treat a patient," said study author Cassandra Quave, PhD, an assistant professor in Emory University's Center for the Study of Human Health in Atlanta. "But instead of always setting a bomb off to kill an infection, there are situations where using an anti-virulence method may be just as effective, while also helping to restore balance to the health of a patient. More research is needed to better understand how we can best leverage anti-virulence therapeutics to improve patient outcomes."

More articles on infection control: 
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When travelers use antibiotics abroad, drug-resistant superbugs can hitchhike home 
Flu outpatient visits, hospitalizations continue to rise 

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