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16 May 2011

Sugar helps antibiotics work better, says study

A spoonful of sugar not only makes medicine easier to swallow, but it also might increase its potency, according to a new study.

The results show sugar can make certain antibiotics more effective at wiping out bacterial infections. The sugar tricks bacteria that would otherwise play dead into consuming the antibiotic and therefore end up really dead.

Adding sugar to medication may augment treatment for some chronic bacterial infections, including staph and tuberculosis, the researchers say.

Galactic Star Laboratory Shines in New Hubble Photo Internal Fire Bakes Jupiter's Pizza Moon Io Superflare from Crab Nebula Has Astronomers Mystified What's 96 Percent of the Universe Made Of? Astronomers Don't Know So far, studies have only been conducted in animals, and more research is needed to see if the same results hold true in humans. But if they do, it's possible the antibiotics we already have could be improved without needing to make new drugs, which can be expensive. In addition, patients may not need to take multiple doses of antibiotics to combat recurrent infections, which would save on health care costs, said study researcher James Collins, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University.

The researchers hope the technique "would help to reduce recurrent infections," Collins said.

The results are published in the May 12 issue of the journal Nature.

Some bacterial infections, including staph, strep, tuberculosis, ear infections and urinary tract infections, become chronic and reoccur even when they are treated with antibiotics. This happens because some bacteria, called persisters, are able to survive antibiotic treatment. Infections with bacterial persisters can last months and return even after the patient appears to recover. These infections can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the kidneys.

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