A team led by Professor Anders Håkansson at Lund University’s Department of Translational Medicine have identified a protein in human breast milk that seems to make previously resistant bacteria once again vulnerable to antibiotics.
Håkansson established that the wonder molecule Hamlet (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor Cells) could be used against cancer tumors and bacteria when he was still a graduate student twenty years ago.
“But what’s more interesting is that Hamlet makes some bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics,” he told Sweden’s TT newswire. “So far it seems that all bacteria can be made sensitive to antibiotics through Hamlet.”
He hopes that the substance could signal the end to the constant race to develop new antibiotics as bacteria develop resistance to the old ones, saving lives.
Håkansson's team is now testing the new drug on animals, and hopes to run the first trials on human patients within one or two years, beginning with patients suffering chronic resistant infections.
“There are children with cystic fibrosis who often die of lung infections, and many of them have strains that are so resistant that we run out of alternative medicines. If we could use hamlet, it could make both doctors and patients very happy.”
The new Department of Translational Medicine, launched on 1st January 2015, brings together Lund’s old Department of Laboratory Medicine with ten new research groups.