The University at Buffalo team added a protein complex -- called HAMLET, after Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumor cells – purified from human milk to aggressive strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Petri dishes and along the inside of the noses of mice. The researchers found that the bacteria were more responsive to antibiotics when they were used in combination with HAMLET.
"It sensitizes the bacteria to the antibiotics that they used to be resistant to, so suddenly, you can use the old [antibiotics] again," said Anders Hakansson, one of the study's authors. He is interested in the properties of human milk that protect infants from infections.
Getting a handle on the stubborn bacteria known as MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, would be a public health relief. MRSA can spur antibiotic-resistant staph infections that are tough to treat.
In 2011, an estimated 11,285 people in the U.S. died from MRSA-related infections, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And MRSA has become a common bug that patients pick up in hospitals.