Medical

Layers of honey may help surgical meshes resist infection

Layers of honey may help surgi...
Manuka honey, which was used in the study, is made from nectar collected by bees that forage on the wild Manuka tree
Manuka honey, which was used in the study, is made from nectar collected by bees that forage on the wild Manuka tree
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Manuka honey, which was used in the study, is made from nectar collected by bees that forage on the wild Manuka tree
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Manuka honey, which was used in the study, is made from nectar collected by bees that forage on the wild Manuka tree

Since ancient times, honey has been used to boost the healing of wounds. In a 21st Century twist, it has now also been incorporated into a surgical mesh coating that could help prevent post-operative infections.

It is believed that all forms of honey have an antibacterial quality, as they contain chemicals that produce hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey is special, however, in that it additionally contains a bacteria-killing organic compound known as methylglyoxal.

With this attribute in mind, an international team of scientists set about creating an electrospun nano-coating for surgical meshes, which slowly releases medical-grade Manuka honey over time. Although ordinary uncoated meshes are frequently used to promote the healing of soft tissues inside the body after surgery, they also increase the risk of infection, as bacterial biofilms can form on their surface.

The new coating consists of eight nano-layers of negatively-charged honey, alternated between another eight nano-layers of a positively-charged biocompatible polymer. The idea is that as the layers of polymer harmlessly biodegrade into the body, fresh layers of the honey are exposed, killing bacteria that might otherwise settle onto the mesh.

In lab tests, the nano-coating was found to protect polymer mesh samples from colonization by harmful bacteria such as MRSA, Staphylococcus and E coli, for up to three weeks. By that time, the patient's internal wounds should have healed.

"These results are really very exciting," says Newcastle University's Dr. Piergiorgio Gentile, who is leading the study along with Ulster University's Dr. Elena Mancuso. "Honey has been used to treat infected wounds for thousands of years, but this is the first time it has been shown to be effective at fighting infection in cells from inside the body."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Frontiers.

Source: Newcastle University

4 comments
guzmanchinky
My mother is a retired trauma surgeon. Swears by honey.
mediabeing
The wonders of 'bee barf'. Amazing.
Wombat56
New Zealand Manuka honey may have been the first to gain notoriety for medical uses but many related Australian species have much stronger biological effects. The common thread is that the honeys are all from plants in the leptospernum family.
Jinpa
Beware botulism, which can live in honey. It's why to not give honey to infants. Their immune system isn't mature enough to cope with botulism.