Search for alternate substances to add to the array of antibiotics that are used to day, has led scientists to a variety of sources including plants and marine sources from which biochemicals simulating bacteria killing ability can be extracted. However no commercially viable product is in the market to day as most studies do not go beyond identification and exploratory stages. The issue has become critical now because "smart" bacteria are emerging which can withstand inhibitory or bactericidal action of most of the antibiotics currently used raising the specter of a potential catastrophe in future. Against this background comes a report from Mexico where a group of scientists have discovered antibacterial and anti fungal properties in the soluble extract of a locally grown fruit with some promise. Here is a take on this new development which needs to be watched further for any fruitful outcome vis a vis mass commercial application.
"We know that proteins inside the fruit have antibacterial activity. We have tested it with S. aureus, a bacterium with high incidence in hospitals which has developed resistance to antibiotics, so they do not work against it," explains Dr. Elizabeth de la Luz Ortiz Vazquez, who served as an advisor of this research . In addition to the Bromeliad extract, the scientists have identified the protein responsible for the antibacterial ability of the fruit. "We try to find alternatives for the food and health industry, and here we have achieved a soluble plant extract; we are also characterizing proteins," Dr. Ortiz Vazquez added. This is the first time that the fruit of Bromelia pinguin L. has been studied, a cousin of the pineapple. The fruit resides within the plant and numbers up to 50 in each bush. The fruits of the plant are grown from November to May, the ancestors of the region were said to use as an antiparasitic, and that is why the research began in 2009. However, ITM specialists have discovered that Fruit-derived antibacterial with potential application in the food industry "If we find any protein or peptide of 5-10 amino acids, we could produce it at a biotechnological level by introducing genetic information in a bacteria," says Dr. Ortiz Vazquez."
Of course like many other studies in the past the protein discovered in this fruit may exhibit limited inhibitory action but whether the extraction and optimization process will confirm its potential as a promising bacteria busting agent will have to await further concentrated studies. The objective of the scientists seems to be to identify a short chain peptide present in the extracted protein that will have highest antibacterial activity and further to mass produce the same through genetic transplanting into a suitable strain of benign bacteria.This makes sense as the plant under consideration is becoming extinct in its own native land. A critical issue that needs to be kept in mind is whether such a peptide will cause allergy symptoms in some people and how that can be avoided.