Natural clay found to kill deadly bacteria
A global effort is under way to findeffective treatments for deadly hospital-acquired infections, withmany such dangerous bacteria proving worryingly resistant toantibiotics. Now, help may have been found in the most unlikely ofplaces, with researchers finding positive results when studying anold folk remedy – natural Canadian clay.
Known as Kisameet clay, the resourcehas been used by centuries by the indigenous people on the centralcoast of British Columbia, treating various medical problems fromskin ailments to internal infections. It was also successfully usedby doctors in Vancouver in the 1940s to treat numerous conditions, from burns toulcerative colitis, but after the rise of antibiotics, the clayremedy was set aside.
Now, with the rise ofantibiotic-resistant bacteria becoming a serious concern for globalhealth, a team of researchers from the University of British Columbiain Vancouver have turned back to the old natural remedy to see if it might help us fight the new threat.
They focused their research on aselection of bacteria known as the ESKAPE group. It includes pathogens such as MRSA, and those that cause dangerous conditionslike pneumonia and septicemia. It's particularly important to findnew ways of tackling these bacteria, as they're extremely difficultto treat, being resistant to most current antibiotics.
The team took a selection of 16different bacteria, picking strains that were prolific in localhospitals, and tested them in a diluted suspension of the clay. Thebacteria were left to interact with the clay for between 24 and 48hours.
When the researchers observed the mixafter that time, they found that the clay had successfully killed offall 16 strains, immediately showing that it plays host to significant antibacterial abilities. They also tested water and solvent-basedclay extracts, observing similar antibacterial effects.
While these early tests results areextremely promising, the researchers have yet to identify the exactmechanisms by which the clay is able to kill the bacteria. Kisameetclay is complex, consisting of different minerals, and with anadvanced microbial community. It's possible that the unique mixof chemical, physical and microbial properties is what allows for theantimicrobial activity.
The researchers plan to test the clayon laboratory animals with bacterial infections, and hope toeventually progress to human trials. In the long run, the goal is toisolate what causes the clay's bacteria killing abilities, harnessing that knowledge to create an all-new antibiotic.
The findings of the study are publishedonline in the journal mBio.
Source: University of British Columbia