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How pineapple could help fight drug-resistant superbugs


(NaturalNews) Could superbugs turn into unstoppable killing machines that threaten the survival of the human race?

Not so long ago, researchers discovered a colistin-resistant E. coli strain for the first time in the United States. According to The Washington Post, health officials have dubbed it the "nightmare bacteria." Colistin is a "last-resort" antibiotic that is typically used to fight dangerous types of superbugs when all other medication fails.

Could this mean the end of antibiotics as we know them today? According to a group of Australian scientists it surely does. However, they claim that pineapples could hold a crucial key in the fight against superbugs.

Pineapple to the rescue

Rob Pike, a biochemist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and his team of scientists, have discovered that a collection of enzymes found in the stems and roots of pineapples work as a natural antibiotic to cure diarrhea in piglets, thus reducing dependence on antibiotics.

According to Professor Pike, these enzymes, referred to as bromelain, would likely be effective in treating humans as well, given the similarities in physiology and anatomy between humans and pigs.

Furthermore, he notes that reducing the use of antibiotics in the meat industry will benefit pigs and humans alike, as these antibiotics are not exactly healthy for the people consuming the meat, and give rise to deadly superbugs.

"Indiscriminate use of antibiotics has resulted in resistant bacteria," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "And this contributes to the rise of superbugs."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year at least 2 million people become infected with a drug-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

If we may believe the UK chancellor, George Osborne, superbugs will become a "greater threat than cancer." In fact, if left unchecked, superbugs could result in the death of an estimated 10 million people a year across the world by 2050.

Need for natural alternatives

Researchers hope that these findings could open new doors to tackling the growing antibiotic resistance threat, and might add an extra weapon to the battle against superbugs.

Unlike any other antibiotic available on the market, pineapple enzymes work with the cells in the pig's gut. They make it nearly impossible for the bacteria to attach to the cells, which prevents diarrhea from taking hold.

"I believe this is a whole new way of going about the treatment of diarrhoea," Professor Pike said. "It means that the pig cells are no longer vulnerable to bacteria."

And, most importantly, by targeting the gut cells instead of the bacteria, the bacteria are denied the chance to evolve and become resistant. According to Professor Pike, the treatment is as effective as antibiotics in preventing diarrhea in the piglets, increasing their chances of survival.

"The momentum to develop alternatives to antibiotics is there now because people believe antibiotics are on the way out and we need something to replace them," Professor Pike said.

In co-operation with Anatara Lifesciences, Professor Pike and his colleague Lakshmi Wijeyewickrema are currently developing an alternative pineapple treatment, as they believe that the time of antibiotics as we know them today, has come to an end.

However, Professor Pike mentioned to Australia's ABC News, that it is unlikely that their pineapple extract will be used for humans, as the FDA will probably not allow its use.

"Most therapeutic goods administration, the FDA in America for example, would probably be against a multi-component kind of extract," he said. "So we'd really have to go into sort of the purified active components of the extract and we know what those are."

"And so the next challenge is indeed to be able to make lots of those purified components, and then in that case yes they would have a chance of being used in the same way in humans."

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