Results from a recent study published in the journal PLoS One shows evidence that allicin, a substance found in garlic extracts, possesses inhibitory and bactericidal properties against life-threatening lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis. These findings may potentially enable the development of new and more natural therapeutic options against these life-threatening pathogens.
Allicin is a substance in garlic bulbs that has been found to be repellent towards a group of plant pathogens in the soil and in water locales. This bacteria called Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) has been documented to cause serious lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis. Attempts to contain the spread of these Bcc infections in people with cystic fibrosis have been successful, however, available treatments are limited and normally require that patients takes more than three antibiotics.
In their study titled “Garlic Revisited: Antimicrobial Activity of Allicin-Containing Garlic Extracts against Burkholderia cepacia Complex,” the research team led by Dominic Campopiano and colleagues from the School of Chemistry at The University of Edinburgh discovered that allicin is able to inhibit the growth of Bcc and in high doses kill the pathogens in the plant. This process is thought to occur due to a modification of key enzymes. Researchers believe that allicin-containing agents could be used with other antibiotics to treat infections caused by Bcc. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved in this process before they can be incorporated in new drugs.
Professor John Govan, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Infectious Diseases, co-leader of the study, said in a recent news release: “At a time when novel antimicrobial agents are urgently required, chemical and microbiological research has the potential to unlock the rich reservoir of antimicrobial compounds present in plants such as garlic. Allicin-containing compounds merit further investigation as adjuncts to existing treatments for infections caused by Bcc.”
Dr. Dominic Campopiano, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, said in the news release: “The medicinal power of garlic has a rich history that dates back thousands of years but the chemical structure of allicin was only revealed in the 1940s. Our work suggests that modern methods should be used to further expand our knowledge of this enigmatic molecule and rejuvenate its potential applications.”