Manuka Honey To Kill Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found In Cystic Fibrosis Infections

Swansea University From Ben Johnson / University Press Office May 29, 2019

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Manuka honey could provide the key to a breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis patients following preliminary work by experts at Swansea University.

Dr Rowena Jenkins and Dr Aled Roberts have found that using Manuka honey could offer an antibiotic alternative to treat antimicrobial resistant respiratory infections, particularly deadly bacteria found in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) infections.

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Using lung tissue from pigs, experts treated grown bacterial infections mimicking those seen in CF patients with Manuka honey. The results showed that it was effective in killing antimicrobial resistant bacteria by 39% compared to 29% for antibiotics, whilst improving the activity of some antibiotics that were unable to function effectively by themselves, honey and antibiotics combined killed 90% of the bacteria tested.

CF is one of the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited diseases, with around 10,400 people in the UK suffering according to the CF Trust. A government review led by Lord Jim O’Neill also highlighted the threat of antimicrobial resistance, estimating that a continued rise in resistance by 2050 would lead to 10 million people dying every year from antimicrobial resistant infections.

A problem that CF patients suffer from are chronic and long-lasting respiratory infections which often prove fatal due to the presence of certain bacteria that are resistant to many (if not all) the antibiotics that doctors currently have at their disposal.

Bacteria that cannot be removed from the lungs through antibiotic treatment can, as a last resort, be removed by providing patients with newly transplanted lungs. This has some associated risks, however, as the bacteria that caused the original infection can still be found in the upper airway, and migrate into the new lungs, thus making the transplant ineffective.

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Some patients have a worse prognosis as they are infected with deadly types of bacteria, such as Pseudomonas and Burkholderia cepacia complex, which are difficult to kill (due to multiple antibiotic resistance) and cause extensive damage to the lungs. In some instances, merely their presence within a patient can prevent them from receiving life-saving lung transplants.

The effectiveness of antibiotics against these deadly infections is a huge concern, making the need to find suitable, non-toxic alternatives, which are effective at killing the bacteria a top priority.

Honey has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal product. More recently, research has shown that Manuka honey is capable of killing antibiotic resistant bacteria present in surface wounds. Funding from The Waterloo Foundation and The Hodge Foundation has allowed research to look at it as an antibiotic alternative in CF infections.

Dr Rowena Jenkins, Lecturer in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Swansea University, said:

“The preliminary results are very promising and should these be replicated in the clinical setting then this could open up additional treatment options for those with cystic fibrosis infections.

“The synergy with antibiotics and absence of resistance seen in the laboratory has allowed us to move into the current clinical trial, investigating the potential for Manuka honey as part of a sinus rinse for alleviating infection in the upper airway.”

This research was first published in Frontiers in Microbiology, while Swansea University are currently sponsoring a clinical trial for this research that runs for another 12 months.

Sweet: Is Honey The Key To The Next Generation Of Antimicrobials?

Student Science     November 18, 2016

One teen's study finds Manuka honey can ward off infection and speed healing.As resistance to existing antibiotics — including so-called treatments of last resort — continues to rise, scientists are looking to other sources to develop next-generation antimicrobials. One of the most promising potential candidates is also one of the sweetest: honey.

But can it really work to ward off infection and speed healing? The results of a small study by 2015 Broadcom MASTERS second place winner Hannah Cevasco say yes, at least for Manuka honey, a honey found in Australia and New Zealand that is purported to have healing properties.

She used diluted solutions of Manuka honey on human dermal fibroblasts she cultured in a lab at Stanford University. (Dermal fibrobasts are cells in skin tissue. They migrate to the site of an injury because they generate the connective tissue that helps skin heal).

Hannah flooded her cell cultures with diluted solutions of Manuka honey at 0.5, 1, and 2 percent concentrations. She also used a culture dish with a 1 percent honey solution that she replaced multiple times, in order to mimic the way someone would change a wound dressing.

Results showed that Manuka honey at 1 percent concentration had a significant effect on cell migration, while the 0.5 percent and 2 percent concentrations had a minimal effect. 

Hannah, who hopes one day to be a pediatric oncologist, is interested in exploring other claims about the healing properties of Manuka honey — especially with regards to its abilities to fight cancer. She’ll be continuing her work with HeLa cervical cancer cells in a lab at Stanford University.

Meet Hannah Cevasco

Read more about Hannah's medical aspirations and her STEM summer camp experience.

There's a Battle to Trademark Manuka, the Champagne of Honey

Bloomburg Pursuits    By Bruce Einhorn    August 24, 2016

Comvita’s Kiwi Bee beekeepers caring for their hives in New Zealand’s North Island. Source: Comvita Ltd.There's a fight Down Under over manuka honey, the so-called superfood famed for its antibacterial qualities. On one side, New Zealand beehive owners say they should have exclusive rights to the manuka name. On the other, Australian producers say the manuka tree that gives the sticky stuff its name is an Aussie native and their honey is just as super as its Kiwi cousin.

Manuka honey is a favorite of celebrities like Novak Djokovic and Kourtney Kardashian. More importantly for the honey industry, the product is in high demand in China, where middle-class shoppers suspicious of locally-made food are willing to pay a lot for honey from clean countries. New Zealand-based Comvita, one of the world's top producers of manuka honey, this week reported 15-month profit of NZ$18.5 million ($13.5 million) on sales of NZ$231 million, about half of which went to Chinese consumers.

Comvita’s hives in the Wairarapa, New Zealand. Source: Comvita Ltd.

As a result, there's a lot of money at stake over the manuka name. The honey is made by bees that pollenate the Leptospermum scoparium, a shrub-like tree that goes by many names, including Tea Tree, Red Damask and Manuka.

Leptospermum scoparium grows in both New Zealand and Australia. While the Kiwi variety gets most of the attention, Aussie beekeepers say their honey is legitimate manuka, too. The dominant Australian brand, Capilano Honey, boasts on its website that it sells three types of manuka—low, medium and high strength—all made from 100 percent pure Australian manuka honey sourced from Leptospermum.

Such claims rile John Rawcliffe, spokesman for New Zealand trade group the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association. Only honey produced by Kiwi bees deserves the manuka moniker, he said. Rawcliffe's group of beekeepers, producers and exporters accounts for about 80 percent of New Zealand's manuka honey sales. “The consumer expects that if it's manuka honey, then it comes from New Zealand,” he said. “Manuka is a Maori word. We are aiming to protect it.”

Manuka deserves the same kind of protection as Champagne or other prestige products associated with a particular region or country, Rawcliffe said. “I could take some corn and make some whiskey but I can't call it Scottish whisky,” he said.

The UMF Honey Association last year submitted an application with the government to trademark the name, saying the move was “fundamental to protecting an internationally recognised premium product that is unique to New Zealand.” On Aug. 9, the association sponsored a symposium, called This is Manuka, that featured scientists from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and China discussing the chemical identity of true manuka honey.

Native New Zealand manuka in full bloom. Source: Comvita Ltd.New Zealand doesn't have a monopoly on manuka, said Trevor Weatherhead, executive director of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. “We have exactly the same plant that they have,” he said, adding that made-in-Australia manuka is similar in quality to New Zealand manuka. As for claims that the manuka name comes from New Zealand's Maori language, Weatherhead says the word has an Australian heritage, too. “We have evidence of the name manuka being used in Tasmania for years,” he said. The New Zealanders “are just looking for a marketing edge.”

The Kiwis do have one big advantage. The manuka plant is not as common in Australia as it is in New Zealand, Weatherhead said, limiting the ability of the industry to produce the high-end honey. “They have large areas of [manuka],” he said. “Here, it's selective where we can get it.”

There's a Battle to Trademark Manuka, the Champagne of Honeys - Bloomburg


Manuka Honey Fraud Uncovered. More Sold Than Made. Surprised?

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.)  

Alan Harman  

New Zealand’s NZ$120-million manuka honey sector is in crisis as tests around the world find the product often has nothing but price to set it apart from ordinary honey.

All manuka honey comes from New Zealand and Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association research shows 1,700 tonnes produced each year.

But 1,800 tonnes of “manuka” honey is sold in Britain alone each year with as much as 10,000 tons sold worldwide.

Of the 73 samples of honey tested by the association, 41 failed to show the non-peroxide activity claimed for manuka honey. Hong Kongauthorities found 14 of 55 manuka honey samples tested were adulterated with syrup. Other tests found some of the honey was not manuka.

The New Zealand Herald reports Britain's Food and Environment Research Agency tested a small sample of five brands of manuka honey from shop shelves. Only one, made by Comvita, the biggest manuka honey producer, was up to standard. The other four showed no detectable non-peroxide activity, the anti-bacterial properties special to manuka honey.

Britain's Food Standards Agency then issued a nationwide warning about misleading claims on the labels of manuka honey jars.

Manuka honey commands prices 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey because of its anti-bacterial properties and New Zealand Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said on Radio New Zealand the government and the honey industry need to move quickly to set an international labeling standard.

UMF Honey Association president John Rawcliffe tells the Herald the UK crackdown was due.

“There is potentially huge fraud,” he says. “There are higher and ever-increasing volumes of honey labeled as manuka which are not manuka.

“We knew we sold more ‘manuka' overseas than has ever been produced . . . we've been spending everything we've got to work out how to stop this fraud, and the only negative thing is that we should have done it quicker.”