Vitamin B3 could be antibiotic sidekick when tackling superbugs

By Natalie Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Staphyloccus Aureus
Staphyloccus Aureus

Related tags Immune system Bacteria

Vitamin B3 may be used to improve the efficacy of antibiotics when treating drug-resistant ‘superbug’ infections such as MRSA, according to new research.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that high doses of the nutrient – otherwise known as niacin – can boost the immune system’s ability to produce the cells that kill off certain strains of staph bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant; for instance Staphylococcus aureus.

The researchers – from teams at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and UCLA – said the finding could help tackle the growing incidence of antibiotic-resistance staph infections.

Study leader, and associate professor for the Linus Pauling Institute, Adrian Gombart said:"This could give us a new way to treat staph infections that can be deadly, and might be used in combination with current antibiotics.

"It's a way to tap into the power of the innate immune system and stimulate it to provide a more powerful and natural immune response."

How it works

The study looked at extremely high-but-safe doses of niacin of 250 mg per kg – “far beyond” ​the amount of B3 found in the average diet.

In mice, it was found to increase the amount as well as the efficacy of neutrophil white blood cells, which were then able to kill off the harmful bacteria.

The latest study, titled ‘C/EBPε mediates nicotinamide-enhanced clearance of Staphylococcus aureus​ in mice’ found that immunity to staph infections was increased 1000 times.

"This is potentially very significant, although we still need to do human studies,"​ Gombart added.

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