Fighting superbugs with pineapple stems

Fighting superbugs with piglets and pineapples - La Trobe scientists' game changing research

Could pineapples and piglets hold a crucial key in the fight against superbugs?

Professor Robert Pike is hopeful.

His research uses cutting edge DNA technology to develop an extract in pineapple stems that stops gastro/diarrhoea in piglets – reducing reliance on antibiotics to treat infection and this common cause of death in the animals.

'We hope this will also open up new avenues for natural treatments of gastro in humans – and  stop our strong reliance on antibiotics and the rise of superbugs,' Professor Pike said.

This has huge implications – scour ( pre-weaning diarrhoea) in piglets costs the pig industry 7 million each year – but the cost to human health is much higher. The high use/reliance of antibiotics in meat production has led to the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria – superbugs- that affect humans.

This natural alternative developed in collaboration with Anatara Lifesciences is called Detach – and uses pineapple extract. It stops the bacteria from attaching to the cells in the animal’s stomach which leads to the gastro.

Field trials with pigs have been positive and the product is due to launch in a few months.

'This has huge significance given consumer demand for antibiotic – free products and regulatory changes that restrict veterinary use of medicinal and growth antibiotics,' Professor Pike said.

Read more in The Age

Photo credit; Jason South, The Age