cranberries

Cranberries may be key defense vs. superbugs

Research explores how flavonols in cranberries repel bacteria.

Researchers have used super-high resolute atomic force microscopes to reveal how a compound in cranberries helps block bacterial infections and may be key to developing strategies to protect us against superbugs.

"With the emergence of new superbugs that are resistant to current antibiotics, our hope is to better understand the mechanisms of bacterial infection so we can identify potential new antibiotic drug targets," Terri Camesano, PhD, professor of chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and co-author of the study, said in a release.

Drug-resistant bacteria infect at least two million Americans every year, according to the CDC. To infect people, the bacteria first must be able to stick to their host and gather in a big enough crowd to form a biofilm. In researching how cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections, scientists at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found that the flavonols in cranberries slash the sticking ability of E. coli. The flavonols reduced the bacteria’s ability to adhere “to almost zero,” says Camesano in a video clip about the research. This effect could be key to developing alternative antibacterial treatments, the authors wrote in an article about the research published in the journal Food & Function.

They concluded: "These compounds should be further explored, both individually and in combination for their antimicrobial properties against various bacterial diseases [to] give us a therapeutic edge against 'superbugs.'"

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