Monday, 29 Oct, 2007 Science

Scientists Discover Clays to Fight Deadly Bacteria


French volcanoes' dirt could kill up to 99 per cent of bugs, including MRSA and E coli within 24 hours.

Agricur, discovered in the Massif Central mountain range, is believed to lead scientists to the development of a new antibiotics' class to which superbugs will be unable to develop resistance. If human trials turn out to be successful, agricur could save lives of thousands of people a year.

Scientists who conducted the laboratory experiments were surprised to see that the clay could destroy bug colonies in just a day. Over the same time period, MRSA's control samples that were not treated with agricur, increased 45-fold. The clay also destroys other deadly bacteria - salmonella and buruli, a flesh-eating disease, a relative of lep rosy.

The terrible disease blemishes children in central and western Africa. MRSA and other bacteria are resistant to conventional antibiotics, in most cases because patients stop taking prescribed drugs after feeling better rather than finishing the proper treatment course.

As a result, the hardiest bugs manage to survive and continue to spread. Scientists in search for new antibiotics to be used instead penicillin have not been much successful.

French doctor Line Brunet de Course was the first to discover the healing properties of French green clays, basically composed of minerals known as smectite and illite. The doctor used the clays to fight buruli at Ivory Coast and Guinea clinics. She then provided 50 case studies to the World Health Organization that described her work as really impressive.

However, the doctor was not given any funding as she lacked scientific evidence. Following de Course's death, her son wanted to find scientists who would get interested in testing agricur. Dr Lynda Williams from Arizona State University, specializing in the clay research, agreed to conduct the testing.

At the moment the scientists have no precise explanation as for how agricur treats MRSA and other infections. According to Dr Williams, they have discovered several anti-bacterial clays that are able to transfer unknown elements to the bacteria, impeding their metabolic function.

The scientists believe that it is not only one toxic element but a combination of elements and chemical conditions that successfully attack the bacteria from different angles, thus destroying their defence systems. They also believe that the clays could attack bacteria through a physical rather than a biochemical process, implying that bacteria could never work out resistance. The scientists are really optimistic about their findings, hoping to save a lot of human lives.

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