Chestnut leaves yield extract that disarms deadly staph bacteria

Chestnut leaves yield extract that disarms deadly staph bacteria

PLOS ONE is publishing the study of a chestnut leaf extract, rich in ursene and oleanene derivatives, that blocks Staphlococcus aureus virulence and pathogenesis without detectable resistance.

The work produced an extract of 94 chemicals, of which ursene and oleanene based compounds are the most active.

Tests showed that this extract inhibits the ability of staph bacteria to communicate with one another, a process known as quorum sensing. MRSA uses this quorum-sensing signaling system to manufacture toxins and ramp up its virulence.

A single dose of the extract, at 50 micrograms, cleared up MRSA skin lesions in lab mice, stopping tissue damage and red blood cell damage. The extract does not lose activity, or become resistant, even after two weeks of repeated exposure. And tests on human skin cells in a lab dish showed that the botanical extract does not harm the skin cells, or the normal skin micro-flora.

The discovery holds potential for new ways to both treat and prevent infections of methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA, without fueling the growing problem of drug-resistant pathogens.