Research Reveals EGCG May Reduce Antibiotic Resistance in Bacterial Infections

Medical researchers in the United Kingdom believe the primarycatechin in green tea may help resist “drug-resistant” superbugs.

Combining antibiotics with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) intea increased the drug’s effectiveness in killing harmful bacteria by as muchas 31% compared to animals and insects who received the antibiotic alone.

Researchersat the University of Surrey published theirwork in the Journalof Medical Microbiology. The studyfocused on Pseudomonas aeruginosa,a so-called “superbug” that leads to serious bloodstream, skin, urinary tract,and respiratory infections.

Doctorstypically treat the bacteria with aztreonam, an antibiotic in wide use.Laboratory tests on human skin cells and on wax moth larvae demonstrated that EGCGsoftens up the bacteria, making it easier for the antibiotics to penetrate andkill. The combination reduced the numbers of clinical multidrug resistantstrains of P. aeruginosain laboratory cultures.

“Thesuccessful experiments have raised hopes that the agent could be developed forroutine use on patients,” reports the  Telegraph in London. Thenewspaper quoted Dr. Jonatan Betts, who led the research: “Antimicrobialresistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global health. We urgently need todevelop novel antibiotics in the fight against AMR.”

Antimicrobialresistance when bacteria acquire DNA from each other, or when the existing DNAof bacteria mutates.

Globally,superbugs cause more than 2 million infections each year, killing 23,000 in theU.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Resistance (CDC) with5,000 in the U.K. Overuse in medicine and agriculture could result in as manyas 10 million deaths globally, making minor infections such as a skin woundfatal, according to Professor Dame Sally Davies, citing government data. Daviesis the U.K.’s chief medical officer.

(Image credit: Dan Bolton)

“Since 2014, the UK has cutthe amount of antibiotics it uses by more than 7% and sales of antibiotics foruse in food-producing animals has dropped by 40%. But the number ofdrug-resistant bloodstream infections increased by 35% between 2013 and 2017,”said professor Davies.

“It isimportant to emphasize that it is not a person who becomes resistant, but thebacterium,” wrote Rich Haridy in New Atlas, “This means thatcures for common infections are under threat.” The World Health Organization(WHO) warn that takingantibiotics when they are not needed — both by humans and livestock — speeds upmultidrug resistance and puts everyone at risk.

Dr.Betts said researchers had not determined precisely how much EGCG is needed orwhether it will be bioavailable since the compound often needs to beadministered in high volumes to achieve positive effects.

“Naturalproducts such as EGCG, used in combination with currently licenced antibiotics,may be a way of improving their effectiveness and clinically useful lifespan,”he wrote.

Prof. Roberto La Ragione, Head of the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, one of the researchers in the study notes that while WHO lists P. aeruginosa as a critical threat to human health, “We have shown that we can successfully eliminate such threats with the use of natural products, in combination with antibiotics already in use."

Sources: TheTelegraph, MedicalNews Today, Journal of Medical Microbiology, New Atlas, Universityof Surrey