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Mineral studies advance antibacterial alternatives
Date:3/3/2010

Alternative approaches to medicine are stock-in-trade in the ASU laboratory of microbiologist Shelley Haydel.

So when ASU senior Jenny Koehl joined Haydel's investigative team seeking firsthand knowledge of how basic research is done, how drugs are tested and potential cures produced, she found it and much more.

With the guidance of Tanya Cunningham, a graduate student mentor, Koehl has helped advance understanding about the antibacterial activity of clay minerals and their ability to kill what the best antibiotics on the market can't touch.

Haydel's group, part of the School of Life Sciences, in the College of Liberals Arts and Sciences, and the Biodesign Institute at ASU, did the work in collaboration with Jack Summers, an inorganic chemist at Western Carolina University. They uncovered two factors that control the antibacterial activity. Their article "pH-dependent metal ion toxicity influences the antibacterial activity of two natural mineral mixtures" was published March 1 in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE.

"This work sets a baseline from which to look for potential mechanisms of antibacterial action," said Cunningham, lead author, who is now a research technician with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

"We need helpful alternatives, natural approaches to antibacterial cures, because there is bacterial resistance to drugs," Koehl said. "Knowing the mechanisms of action will help us develop our own topical treatments."

Clay has had a role in human health as ancient as man. However, specific identification of the mechanisms underlying this antibacterial activity has been elusive, until now.

The Haydel-Summers collaborative has added clarity to these distinctly muddy waters by screening more than 50 mineral mixtures (and aqueous extractions from them, known as leachates) marketed as health and cosmetic products using pathogens Escherichia coli, Salm
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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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