Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Garlic counteracts virulent bacteria

Date:
February 18, 2014
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Aggressive multi-resistant infections constitute an increasing health problem all over the world. Bacteria are developing resistance at an alarming pace, so new pharmaceuticals that can combat this threat are in great demand. Garlic contains a substance that is particularly effective in encounters with even the hardiest bacterial strains. New research looks at the positive properties of the malodorous plant.

Garlic contains so little ajoene that you would need to eat around 50 a day to achieve the desired effect.
Credit: Stefano Pareschi / Fotolia

Garlic contains a substance that is particularly effective in encounters with even the hardiest bacterial strains. A young researcher at the University of Copenhagen will soon be defending his PhD thesis on the positive properties of the malodorous plant.

Related Articles


Aggressive multi-resistant infections constitute an increasing health problem all over the world. Bacteria are developing resistance at an alarming pace, so new pharmaceuticals that can combat this threat are in great demand.

"We know that there is a potent chemical compound in the garlic plant that neutralises resistant bacteria by paralysing their communication system. My PhD thesis demonstrates that ajoene -- the substance present in garlic -- specifically prevents the bacteria from secreting the toxin rhamnolipid which destroys white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are indispensable because they play a crucial role in the immune defence system, not only warding off infection, but also killing bacteria," explains Tim Holm Jakobsen, PhD Student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, who will be defending his thesis on 21 February.

A tough sheath of biofilm

When bacteria clump together in what is known as biofilm -- where they surround themselves with a tough film of organic materials -- they become resistant to antibiotics. Researchers have been devoting much of their attention to Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, which cause infections in patients with chronic leg ulcers, for example, and in the lungs of patients suffering from cystic fibrosis.

"Ajoene supports and improves treatment with conventional antibiotics. We have clearly demonstrated this on biofilm cultivated in the laboratory and in trials involving mice. When we add antibiotics to biofilm they have very little effect, and ajoene alone barely makes any difference. It is only when the two are combined that something significant happens," explains Tim Holm Jakobsen.

Combination treatment with ajoene and antibiotics kills more than 90 per cent of the normally virulent biofilm.

From a technical perspective, the ajoene blocks the communication system -- known as Quorum Sensing -- in the bacteria, which is used for purposes including creating infection.

Chemists outstrip nature

A large number of natural substances have proved extremely effective as medicines; taxol from the yew tree is used to treat breast cancer, for example, while artemisinin from sweet wormwood is effective against malaria. However, to improve on the original substances from nature -- and to assure sustainable pharmaceutical production -- researchers are working to augment natural materials through chemical synthesis.

"Garlic contains so little ajoene that you would need to eat around 50 a day to achieve the desired effect. This means we have to pick up the ball from Mother Nature and run with it," says Tim Holm Jacobsen, who hopes that the pharmaceutical industry will be quick to turn its attention to producing of the natural substance to which the research group currently holds the patent.

"There's a lot of money in pharmaceuticals for treating chronic illnesses such as diabetes, but if we are to win the race against bacteria, we need to bring new antibiotics into play. Nature is a great starting point for developing medicines -- two-thirds of all new pharmaceuticals are based on natural substances," concludes Tim Holm Jakobsen.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Garlic counteracts virulent bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218124538.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2014, February 18). Garlic counteracts virulent bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218124538.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Garlic counteracts virulent bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218124538.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins