The threat of Superbugs, and the research to control them
The researchers’ findings may support further research into antimicrobial medications that can help to control the behavior of superbugs, which are bacteria that are resistant to treatment. Superbugs represent a severe health problem for individuals with Cystic Fibrosis and multiple other diseases. “When bacteria makes biofilm it is more prone to build antibiotic resistance, so we are not looking at killing the bacteria because that can make it more aggressive, we are just trying to disrupt it. If children were playing and making a lot of mess, we can’t really ask them not to play, but what we can do is introduce some rules to control their behavior. What we are doing with cinnamon is kind of the same thing” said Dr. Topa.
Working with fellow researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the research team performed several experiments in order to assess the impact of various amounts of cinnamaldehyde on P. aeruginosa biofilms. “We hypothesized that using natural antimicrobials, such as essential oils, might interfere in [drug-resistant] biofilm formation. Though many previous studies have reported antimicrobial activity of cinnamon essential oil, it is not widely used in the pharmaceutical industry” said Dr. Topa. They found that non-lethal quantities of the oil could inhibit the onset of the bacterial-signaling protein responsible for bacteria communication and biofilm formation - disrupting up to 75.6% of antibiotic-resistance from P. aeruginosa biofilms. They also found that cinnamaldehyde could reduce the motility of bacteria, thus preventing its ability to spread elsewhere within the body. “CAD can disrupt biofilms and other surface colonization phenotypes through the modulation of intracellular signaling processes” wrote the researchers.
Dr. Topa and fellow researchers hope that their findings will be useful in addressing skin infections. They are now investigating the use of cinnamaldehyde embedded within wound dressings as an approach to treating such infections.