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Breast Milk Protein Spells Hope In Fighting Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs


Antibiotic resistance, which has become a major public health threat, is a hot topic in medical research. A new finding by University at Buffalo researchers might hold a promise for combating the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The researchers suggest that a protein complex found in human breast milk can help reverse the antibiotic resistance of bacterial species and make them respond to antibiotics again.

The protein complex called *HAMLET increased the sensitivity of bacteria including penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) to multiple classes of antibiotics, such as penicillin and erythromycin in lab experiments, according to the researchers.

Bacteria find it difficult to develop resistance to HAMLET even after being exposed to it for many generations. HAMLET has also been found to kill bacteria via a deadly process, say by influx of calcium and activation of the enzyme serine/threonine kinase, and ends with cells rupturing, that is clearly different from that of commonly prescribed antibiotics.

Moreover, being a naturally occurring human milk protein-lipid complex, HAMLET is devoid of toxic side effects unlike the high-powered antibiotics needed to kill drug-resistant organisms, noted the researchers.

The researchers plant to test HAMLET on additional strains of bacteria and expand the in-vivo infection models used for testing to provide a proof of principle.

*HAMLET stands for Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor Cells.

The study, authored by Laura Marks, Anders Hakansson and UB PhD student Emily Clementi, was published in the journal PLOS ONE on May 1, 2013.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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