Naturally occurring food preservatives kill cancer, antibiotic-resistant bugs

A new Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan study has found nisin — a food preservative naturally occurring in dairy products — may help combat cancer and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The study was conducted by feeding rats a "nisin milkshake." The treatment killed 70 to 80 percent of head and neck tumors in the rats after nine weeks and also extended survival. The study also revealed nisin can fight deadly MRSA infections. The food preservative was able to bind to bacteria and start breaking it down before the infections had a chance to become resistant to antibiotics.

"To date, nobody had found bacteria from humans or living animals that is resistant to nisin," said study author Yvonne Kapila, DDS, PhD, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Although the results of the study are promising, Dr. Kapila noted the findings are limited in that the study was small and conducted in rodents, not humans. It would be premature to speculate whether nisin would behave in a similar manner in people, she said.

Going forward, Dr. Kapila hopes to test nisin in a clinical setting.

"The application of nisin has advanced beyond its role as a food biopreservative," said Dr. Kapila. "Current findings and other published data support nisin's potential use to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, periodontal disease and cancer."




More articles on staph infections:
3 quality, patient safety indicators for treating staph infections
Research helps explain why MRSA takes hold post-implant surgery
Use of certain antibiotics to treat MRSA 'superbug' may make infection worse

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