A new remedy combines blue light with food-safe vegetable oils to safely wipe out surface bacteria

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A new treatment for removing surface bacteria using blue light and carvacrol, a phenol derived from cooking oil, produces a phototoxic bacterial-specific reaction that does not contribute to antibiotic resistance. The technology developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine Scientific translation medicine..

Oral and topical antibiotics have been widely used since the 1940s, saving the lives and limbs of thousands of soldiers and injured civilians in World War II. It is difficult to exaggerate how much life has been saved and improved by the pharmacology of antibiotics, but the effectiveness of many elective treatments as the bacteria mutate to withstand our common treatments. Is currently declining rapidly.

“Multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria have become one of the greatest threats to modern public health care, and treatment options are becoming increasingly scarce as antibiotics are available to treat these infections. Infectious diseases are associated with high mortality rates, leading to about 35,000 deaths each year in the United States alone, “said Harvard Medical School’s associate professor and corresponding author of the study. Dr. May X. Wu said. However, loss of life is not the only cause of damage due to antimicrobial resistance. “The estimated cost of antibiotic resistance exceeds $ 55 billion annually if productivity losses are included in the estimate,” Dr. Wu adds.

Although multiple methods have been developed to treat internal infections, this two-step treatment is perfectly suited for effective and simple treatment of surface wound infections. Dr. Wu describes this process as follows: “Carvacrol, a component of cooking oil, is combined with blue light to safely, quickly and quickly kill multiple MDR bacterial pathogens without developing resistance …. This modality is a replacement, especially for patients. It can be a means. Diabetic patients with skin wound infections that cannot be effectively treated with antibiotics. ”Such wounds are difficult to treat and cause considerable discomfort and secondary infections.

Carvacrol is a phenolic compound that has long been used as a preservative in food production. Derived from the essential oils of thyme and oregano, it is naturally present in many edible plants and is safe for topical and internal use. In this treatment, surface wounds are treated with carvacrol and exposed to blue light to cause a bacterial-specific phototoxic reaction. “Carvacrol is edible and blue light is safely used in clinics to treat acne and neonatal jaundice, so this treatment is convenient to use at home,” explains Dr. Wu.

This study focused on two common pathogens, Acinetobacter baumanni and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which are notorious for being difficult to treat with currently approved methods. In addition, mice infected with lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa were saved using a new strategy.

From the study: “Mechanical studies photocatalytically oxidize carbacrol into a series of photoreactive substrates that undergo photodegradation or additional photosensitization in response to the same blue light and interact with each other. Oxygen species have been shown to form two autoxidation cycles, resulting in a potent production of cytotoxic reactivity. ”In one application, researchers found that biofilm bacteria have few or no side effects in patients. We have found a substantial or complete eradication of. After 20 repeated applications, the researchers found no antimicrobial resistance. Neither carvacrol nor blue light alone gave comparable results.

“To validate efficacy before clinical trials, we need to test with large animals such as pigs,” explains Dr. Wu for FDA approval. If the treatment turns out to be effective, it is relatively low cost and easy enough to self-administer at home.

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For more information:
Min Lu et al. Bacterial phototoxic reactions caused by blue light and the phytochemical carvacrol, Scientific translation medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / scitranslmed.aba3571

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A new remedy combines blue light with food-safe vegetable oils to safely wipe out surface bacteria

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