A compound in trees could kill drug-resistant bacteria

A compound in trees could kill drug-resistant bacteria
©iStock/Daniel Balakov

A new study finds a naturally occurring compound in trees could potentially kill drug-resistant bacteria.

A new study by scientists from the University of Portsmouth and Naresuan and Pibulsongkram Rajabhat Universities in Thailand investigated if a naturally occurring compound called hydroquinine can kill drug-resistant bacteria.

Drug-resistant bacteria has quickly developed into a worldwide public health threat. It occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites develop over time and no longer respond to medicines, causing difficulty in treating the infection. The growing struggle with treating drug-resistant bacteria and infections means that it is crucial to find new technologies and therapies.

What are drug-resistant bacteria?

Data indicates that drug-resistant bacteria occur in more than 2.8 million infections and are responsible for 35,000 deaths per year. The overuse of antibiotics has led to drug-resistant bacteria, meaning medications are becoming less effective and has resulted in “superbugs”. Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are completely resistant to medications.

Common drug-resistant superbugs can cause diseases such as sepsis, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.

Naturally occurring tree compound

Hydroquinine is found in the bark of some trees, and now, could be used to kill bacteria strains. This naturally occurring substance has already been utilised as an effective treatment for malaria in humans and new research illuminates its power to kill drug-resistant bacteria.

The researchers published their findings in the Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease journal and suggest the antimicrobial properties of hydroquinine make it a potential candidate for future clinical investigation.

Dr Robert Baldock from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth said: “Using bacterial killing experiments, we found that hydroquinine was able to kill several microorganisms including the common multidrug-resistant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

“Characteristically, we also discovered that one of the main mechanisms used by these bacteria to escape killing activity of the drug was upregulated with treatment – indicating a robust response from the bacteria.

“By studying this compound further, our hope is that it may in future offer another line of treatment in combatting bacterial infections.”

The study recommends further investigation into the antimicrobial resistance properties and side effects of hydroquinine.

Dr Jirapas Jongjitwimol from the Department of Medical Technology at Naresuan University added: “Our future research aims to uncover the molecular target of hydroquinine. This would help our understanding of how the compound works against pathogenic bacteria and how it could potentially be used in a clinical setting.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here