A noxious weed that plagues homeowners across Florida may hold the secret to a new way to fight some antibiotic-resistant superbugs, researchers reported Friday.
A compound made by the red berries of the Brazilian peppertree disarms methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the team at Emory University reports.
What’s unusual is the berries don’t kill the bacteria, but simply stop them from doing harm, says Cassandra Quave, who studies ethnobotany and dermatology at Emory University in Atlanta.
“Traditional healers in the Amazon have used the Brazilian peppertree for hundreds of years to treat infections of the skin and soft tissues,” said Quave, who reported her team’s findings in the journal Scientific Reports.
Her lab broke it down and tested it on bacteria, human skin cells and in animals.
It works it an unexpected way — as a so-called quorum quencher.