Giving Compass’ Take:
• Carol Clark reports that three plants used to fight infected wounds in the civil war show promise for fighting infections, leading researchers to identify the key properties.
• How can funders advance this type of research? What other natural cures could be tested and distilled to address medical needs?
• Learn how to find and fund scientific research.
The results show that extracts from the plants—the white oak, the tulip poplar, and the devil’s walking stick—have antimicrobial activity against one or more of a trio of dangerous species of multi-drug-resistant bacteria associated with wound infections: Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
“Our findings suggest that the use of these topical therapies may have saved some limbs, and maybe even lives, during the Civil War,” says senior author Cassandra Quave, assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Human Health and the School of Medicine’s dermatology department at Emory University.
Quave is an ethnobotanist who studies how people use plants in traditional healing practices to uncover promising candidates for new drugs. “Ethnobotany is essentially the science of survival—how people get by when limited to what’s available in their immediate environment,” she says.
“Our research might one day benefit modern wound care, if we can identify which compounds are responsible for the antimicrobial activity,” says Micah Dettweiler, the first author of the paper in Scientific Reports.
If researchers can identify the active ingredients, “it is my hope that we can then [further] test these molecules in our world-renowned models of bacterial infection,” says coauthor Daniel Zurawski, chief of pathogenesis and virulence for the Wound Infections Department at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Read the full article about plants that show promise for fighting infection by Carol Clark at Futurity.
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