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Friday, November 16, 2007

MRSA faces defeat from wild flowers

By Ailín Quinlan
A WILD flower growing in West Cork could hold the key to wiping out the deadly superbug MRSA, it has emerged.

Researchers at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) have revealed the bright yellow flower known as inula helenium kills the lethal bug, which is resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics on the market.

Inula helenium is a tall plant which grows wild in west Cork and blossoms in late summer. It’s one of two herbs involved in a €35,000 research project carried out at CIT. The other, pulsatilla vulgaris, also proved highly effective against the potentially fatal MRSA bug.

Extracts from both plants were tested against a group of 300 staphylococci including MRSA and inula helenium proved 100% effective against the superbug.

The trials were carried out by postgraduate student Susan O’Shea of CIT’s biological sciences department as part of a two-year research project, under the supervision of Dr Brigid Lucey, a senior medical scientist with the microbiology department of Cork University Hospital and Dr Lesley Cotter, a lecturer in biomedical sciences at CIT.

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