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Honey needed for superbug fight

18 October 2012

Honey needed for superbug fight
(L-R) At the National Botanic Garden of Wales are the Garden's in-house bee-keeper Lynda Christie, Garden industrial placement student Adelaide Griffiths, Professor Les Baillie, Cardiff microbiology student Jenny Hawkins and Dr Natasha de Vere. Credit: James Davies.

A team of University researchers have renewed their call for UK beekeepers to send them their honey in a bid to help tackle hospital superbugs like MRSA.

The team, led by Professor Les Baillie from the Welsh School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the National Botanic Garden of Wales, is examining whether honey and its maker – the humble bee – could hold the secret to fighting hospital superbugs like MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Spurred on by the antibacterial attributes of Manuka honey, the project aims to identify native British plants with similar therapeutic properties by screening honey samples collected from every part of the UK.

"In preliminary studies we have identified a number of Welsh honeys with antibacterial activity and are in the process of determining their DNA profile," said Professor Baillie, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

"While the early results are promising we are still seeking additional samples from across the UK to increase our chances of finding therapeutic compounds.

"We are therefore appealing to beekeepers from across the UK to send us samples along with a list, if known, of the plants their bees feed on," he added.

The research is funded by the Society for Applied Microbiology, the European Social Fund and the Welsh Government.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the project should send a 200g sample to: Miss Jenny Hawkins, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Redwood Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB.

This project was partly undertaken through the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship(KESS) programme which is a collaborative research and higher-level skills programme supported by the Welsh Government's ESF Convergence Programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

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