Science Reporting

Scientists discover that blueberries can make antibiotics more efficient

A new study that appeared in Advanced Science shows that blueberries could be useful to counter the increasingly pressing resistance to antibiotics that for several years has been undermining many attempts to combat bacterial infections.

The pathogenic bacteria, in fact, could be treated with molecules derived from blueberries. With such treatments, bacteria could become more sensitive to lower doses of antibiotics according to scientists at McGill University and the INRS in Montreal. Researchers have tested the effects of blueberry extract on various bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections (on the other hand, blueberry juice itself is known precisely because it is useful against this type of infection). Effects on pneumonia and gastroenteritis bacteria (Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli) have also been tested.

By treating these bacteria with antibiotics based on blueberry extract, researchers found that they did not develop resistance because the blueberry extract itself increased bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics in two ways: by making the bacterial cell wall more permeable to the antibiotic and by interfering with the ways in which the bacteria themselves pump out the antibiotic.

These are “really exciting” results, as Éric Déziel, professor of microbiology and one of the authors of the study, together with Nathalie Tufenkji (the lead author) says.

Now scientists want to understand if these effects also exist in living animals and are trying to test juice and blueberry derivatives on infected insects. Perhaps one day new blueberry-based antibiotics will be developed that can be of enormous help in the war against bacteria that are pathogenic to humans.