Friday, September 04, 2009

Newly-Discovered Molecule Augments Manuka Honey Antibacterial Activity

Honey Breakthrough Reveals Manuka’s Secrets
Press Release: University of Waikato

New research on New Zealand's world-famous antibacterial manuka honey has unveiled another of its secrets.

Watson and Son, a major New Zealand producer of manuka honey, in collaboration with Professor Peter Molan of Waikato University’s Honey Research Unit, has commissioned research by a specialist research laboratory in Singapore, which shows that a special molecule acts to augment the antibacterial activity of methylglyoxal in the honey – a process known as synergy.

The unique type of antibacterial activity in manuka honey was discovered in research at the University of Waikato in 1982. Evidence shows manuka’s special antibacterial properties are effective at healing wounds, but research also shows that this activity is present in only some manuka honeys.

Last year, Waikato University Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris of the Chemistry Department, showed that methylglyoxal was responsible for the antibacterial activity in manuka honey.

However Prof Molan has long maintained there is also a synergy at work in the honey and last October, New Zealand beekeeper-chemist Denis Watson commissioned a specialist research laboratory in Singapore to investigate several active fractions in manuka honey. Mr Watson is one of New Zealand’s largest manuka producers. In partnership with iwi groups in the Far North he has more than 15,000 beehives in manuka plantations around New Zealand.

Dr Manley-Harris and Prof Molan say they are delighted companies are taking the initiative to commission research of this calibre.

The results have proven the existence of a formerly secret synergist: a special molecule that combines with the methylglyoxal molecule and other fractions in the honey to create the very powerful antibacterial activity the honey is world famous for. The discovery is also the key to understanding why the clinically proven antibacterial activity is so effective and why international research to date has shown that bacteria fail to develop the resistance that is inevitable with conventional antibiotics…

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