Maple syrup extract increases antibiotic potency

Researchers have created a maple syrup extract that enhances the effectiveness of commonly used antibiotics, according to a new study presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco on Sunday.

When mixing the maple syrup extract with the commonly used antibiotics ciprofloxacin and carbenicillin, researchers detected a synergistic reaction. The extract bolstered the antimicrobial properties of the drugs and proved effective in the laboratory setting against several bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli. Combining the medicines and the extract allowed researchers to reduce the amount of antibiotics needed to be effective against these bacterial strains by 90 percent.

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Upon further investigation, the team discovered the extract increased the permeability of bacterial cells, suggesting the syrup extract allows the antibiotics to enter the interior of bacterial cells thereby increasing the efficacy of the drugs.

"Native populations in Canada have long used maple syrup to fight infections," said Nathalie Tufenkji, PhD, a professor in the department of chemical engineering at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. "I've always been interested in the science behind these folk medicines ... There are other products out there that boost antibiotic strength, but this may be the only one that comes from nature."

Dr. Tufenkji's team is currently testing the maple syrup extract in mice.

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