Science

Vitamin B3 can boost immunity to fight superbugs

| | Updated on: Aug 28, 2012

Vitamin B3 can be used as a new weapon against deadly, antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from the US found that nicotinamide, more commonly known as vitamin B3, may be able to combat some of the antibiotic-resistance staph infections that are increasingly common around the world.

The research found that high doses of this vitamin increased by 1,000 times the ability of immune cells to kill staph bacteria.

When used in human blood, clinical doses of vitamin B3 appeared to wipe out the staph infection in only a few hours.

The researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, UCLA, and other institutions conducted tests on laboratory animals and human blood.

“Antibiotics are wonder drugs, but they face increasing problems with resistance by various types of bacteria, especially Staphylococcus aureus,” Adrian Gombart from Oregon State University 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,” Gombart said in a statement.

The study found that clinical doses of nicotinamide increased the numbers and efficacy of “neutrophils”, a specialised type of white blood cell that can kill and eat harmful bacteria.

However, there is no evidence yet that normal diets or conventional-strength supplements of vitamin B3 would have any beneficial effect in preventing or treating bacterial infection, Gombart said, and people should not start taking high doses of the vitamin.

One of the most common and serious of the staph infections, called methicillin-resistant S aureus, or MRSA, was part of the study.

“This vitamin is surprisingly effective in fighting off and protecting against one of today’s most concerning public health threats. Such approaches could help reduce dependence on antibiotics,” Dr George Liu, an infectious disease expert at Cedars-Sinai and co-senior author on the study, said.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Published on August 28, 2012

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