MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Mark Webber PhD, MSc, BSc
Senior Research Fellow
School of Immunity and Infection
University of Birmingham and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC)
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Webber: Infection is a major problem for patients who suffer burn injuries and these are vary hard to treat with traditional antibiotics which struggle to effectively reach the wound and kill the bugs. One alternative which has been used in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for some time is the use of acetic acid, basically vinegar. Acetic acid has long been known to be a useful antimicrobial but clinicians in Birmingham have found it to be effective in treating wounds infected, particularly with Pseudomonas. There is though very little science about what concentration of acetic acid would work best and how it kills bugs. We have shown the acetic acid works well against lots of different bugs and at much lower concentrations than are used in practice. Importantly we showed that the acetic acid works well against bugs stuck to a surface – in what’s known as a ‘Biofilm’. Biofilms are typically highly drug resistant.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Webber: We have shown that acetic acid can be effective against a wide range of pathogens and at lower concentrations than currently used which suggests effective treatment can be achieved without some of the side effects (mainly pain) from higher concentrations.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Webber: There are a wide range of organic acids which may be useful as antimicrobials and we would like to carefully identify which ones work best and under which conditions, further to this we would also like to understand how the acids actually kill bacteria and how the bacteria respond – it is important to see if resistance is an issue which may emerge over time as we have seen with traditional antibiotics.
Fenella D. Halstead, Maryam Rauf, Naiem S. Moiemen, Amy Bamford, Christopher M. Wearn, Adam P. Fraise, Peter A. Lund, Beryl A. Oppenheim, Mark A. Webber. The Antibacterial Activity of Acetic Acid against Biofilm-Producing Pathogens of Relevance to Burns Patients.PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (9): e0136190 DOI: 1371/journal.pone.0136190
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Dr Mark Webber PhD, MSc, BSc (2015). Dilute White Vinegar Disrupts Bacterial Biofilms