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Healing Staph Infection With Chestnut Leaves

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Science Daily reports PLOS ONE is publishing a study on chestnut leaf extract, which is rich in ursene and oleanene derivatives, that blocks Staphlococcus aureus virulence and pathogenesis without detectable resistance. The use of chestnut leaves in traditional folk remedies inspired the research, led by Cassandra Quave, an ethnobotanist at the Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology.

“We’ve identified a family of compounds from this plant that have an interesting medicinal mechanism,” Quave says. “Rather than killing staph, this botanical extract works by taking away staph’s weapons, essentially shutting off the ability of the bacteria to create toxins that cause tissue damage. In other words, it takes the teeth out of the bacteria’s bite.”

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

“We’ve demonstrated in the lab that our extract disarms even the hyper-virulent MRSA strains capable of causing serious infections in healthy athletes,” Quave says. “At the same time, the extract doesn’t disturb the normal, healthy bacteria on human skin. It’s all about restoring balance.”

In Southern Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean, local people and healers traditionally made a tea from the leaves of the chestnut tree and washed their skin with it to treat skin infections and inflammations.

The Emory Office of Technology Transfer has filed a patent for the discovery of the unique properties of the botanical extract. The researchers are doing further testing on individual components of the extract to determine if they work best in combination or alone.

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