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With onions to combat antibiotic resistance

With onions to combat antibiotic resistance


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Doctors are discovering the strengthening effects of certain onions on antibiotics

Researchers have now found that the antibacterial properties of a particular type of onion could be used to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments in the future. For example, this type of onion could be the key to combating antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis pathogens.

A team of scientists from Birkbeck, UCL, the University of Greenwich, the University of East London and the Royal Free Hospital found that the antibacterial properties of Persian shallot could be used to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Scientific Reports".

More and more pathogens from bacterial infections develop resistance to antibiotics

If patients have a bacterial infection, they can be prescribed an antibiotic. In the case of tuberculosis, a mixture of four antibiotics is likely to be prescribed, including isoniazid and rifampicin. Unfortunately, pathogens are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics in bacterial infections.

We need new classes of antibacterial agents to fight antibiotic resistance

As a result, antibiotics lose the ability to effectively fight or kill harmful bacteria. In this way, the bacteria can continue to grow, cause further damage to the patient and spread among the population. There is therefore an urgent need to develop new classes of antibacterial agents to combat antibiotic resistance, the experts explain.

Scientists are studying chemical compounds of the Persian shallot

The research team headed by Dr. In the current study, Sanjib Bhakta and Professor Simon Gibbons examined the so-called Persian shallot and its antibacterial effect. They synthesized the chemical compounds that are present in these plants in order to better understand and optimize their antibacterial potential.

For this purpose, they tested four different synthesized compounds, all of which brought about a significant reduction in the presence of the bacteria in multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. The most promising compound inhibited the growth of tuberculosis isolated cells by more than 99.9 percent.

Millions of people are infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis

The team concludes that the chemical compounds could serve as templates for the discovery of new drugs to fight tuberculosis strains that have previously developed resistance to antibacterial drugs. Dr. Bhakta from the Birkbeck's Department of Biological Sciences said: “Despite a concerted global effort to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, around 10 million new cases and two million deaths were reported in 2016.

Worldwide, 50 million people are currently infected with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. ” This shows how important the development of new antibacterial agents is.

Is the dangerous drug resistance reversible?

“When looking for new antibacterial agents, we focus on molecules that are so strong that they can be developed independently as new agents. However, in this study we show that by inhibiting the intrinsic resistance properties of tuberculosis, the effects of existing antibiotic treatments can be enhanced and the existing drug resistance reversed, ”added Dr. Bhakta added in a press release from University College London.

More research is needed

Natural products from plants and microbes have enormous potential as a source of new antibiotics, explains Professor Gibbons from University College London. Plants, such as the Persian shallot, produce chemicals to ward off microbes in their environment. According to the experts, further research must focus on discovering new forms of antibiotics and better understanding their mode of action. (as)

Author and source information


Video: Antibiotic Resistance: What You Can Do to Prevent a Future Pandemic. Ravina Kullar. TEDxBend (June 2022).


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