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Antiseptic From World War 1 Holds The Key To Treat Superbugs

First Posted: Nov 29, 2016 03:45 AM EST
Early Gas Mask
French troops wearing an early form of gas mask in the trenches during the Second Battle of Ypres.
(Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization has previously warned about the potential global crisis of an increasing number of bugs that are resistant to antibiotic or also called superbugs. However, it was recently discovered by the researchers that the antiseptic used to treat the soldiers' wounds in World War 1 could help combat the superbugs and counter the future pandemics.

A team of experts from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research discovered that pre-treating people with Acriflavine protected cell counter to the common cold by triggering an anti-viral immune response. The antiseptic is made from coal tar and can aid to avoid infections and treat bacterial ones.

Originally, the antiseptic is being used to treat wounds and "sleeping sickness" of the soldiers during the World War 1. A researcher Dr. Michael Gantier said that "It's repurposing something that has been around forever. It's not really around anymore because people didn't understand how it worked."

Dr. Grantier added that the antiseptic is later replaced by penicillin. But, the researchers think that the new bacteria or the superbugs that are more resistant to treatment might come back. "It's very cheap to make, it's not something you would make if you were a private company trying to make money on drugs," according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The researchers found that Acriflavine basically produced a "double effect." "On one hand to have an antibacterial effect, and on the other hand, we discovered this capacity to instigate an immune response of the host, to protect the host," Dr. Grantier added.

The "double effect" of the drug means that it could combat the future pandemics. "So we think that for patients who are at risk, we could potentially provide them with this drug in a form like a puffer - a bit like you use Ventolin," he said.

However, more clinical trials needed to be conducted. Dr. Grantier said that the drug that can be used before in humans is much easier than developing a new drug. He even credits the Internet because it makes it much easier for them to search for the antiseptic dugs from the time of the World War 1, a report by ABC said.

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