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Miracle molecule found in human breast milk shown to kill drug-resistant superbugs

Human breast milk

(NaturalNews) Human breast milk is a wonderful thing – it gives new born babies the perfect mix of vitamins, proteins, fats and antibodies to help combat bacterial infections and viruses.(1)

For thousands of years, breastfed children have benefited from this additional protection against disease during their vital first months of life. However, in a breakthrough new report by U.K. scientists, breast milk is now considered vital to adults too.

Scientists have developed an antibiotic from human breast milk that will play a crucial part in the fight against superbugs, which currently kill around 700,000 people worldwide every year. This figure is predicted to rise up to 10 million by 2050 according to a panel set up by Prime Minister David Cameron to tackle the growing problem.

What is a superbug?

In short, a superbug is a pathogen that is resistant to the treatments that are commonly used against it. One widely known superbug is MRSA, which is resistant to many drugs that had been available to fight it. Medical experts warn that, as the global population continues to increase and fewer antibiotics are discovered, we will see an increase in extremely dangerous infections that are a threat to human life.(2)

David Cameron has warned that these superbugs could plunge modern medicine "back into the Dark Ages," and according to the U.K.'s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, ministers have not yet even begun to plan for a world without antibiotics, because it is hoped that powerful new drugs will be discovered in time.(3)

Superbugs commonly spread in hospitals, affecting people who are being treated for something completely different whilst their immune systems are weaker. At the moment, the only real way to help prevent the spreading of these bugs is to advise people to wash their hands regularly in an attempt to limit exposure.

So is breast milk the answer?

The antibiotic that has recently been developed from human breast milk may hold the key to our upcoming battle with superbugs. Unlike most antibiotics currently available, this new drug works by attacking the basic biology of bacteria, making it almost impossible for the infection to evolve defenses.

This is the type of breakthrough upon which ministers are relying to fight superbugs in coming years. Developed at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in southwest London, the antibiotic created from breast milk is able to literally tear apart bacteria within a fraction of a second.

The compound developed by the NPL was isolated from the active ingredient, lactoferrin, which has long been considered to have innate but weak antimicrobial properties. Lactoferrin is part of a protein that naturally occurs in breast milk and completely destroys bacteria, fungi and viruses as soon as it touches them.(4)

After isolating the breast milk compound, scientists injected it into an artificial virus that selectively targets bacteria. Researchers believe that this new antibiotic could also be used to treat currently terminal or "incurable" genetic diseases, such as sickle-cell anaemia, because of its ability to rewrite a cell's DNA.

It may be a decade before it is clear whether or not this antibiotic works and becomes widely available. One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that enough of the virus gets into the infected areas without first being broken down in the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, medical experts have suggested that we need on average 10 new antibiotics every decade to combat those bacteria that have already built up resistance. This means that scientists need to find more prospective antibiotics – and fast – in order for the threat of superbugs to be alleviated.

Sources included:

1. BabyCentre.com

2. LiveScience.com

3. TheTimes.co.uk

3. Independent.co.uk

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