MONTREAL, April 16 (UPI) -- Everything's better with a little maple syrup. Even antibiotics. A new study showed maple syrup extract made bacteria more vulnerable to the germ-fighting effects of antibiotics.
Researchers at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, found that condensed maple syrup weakened microbial defense systems, allowing antibiotics to work more efficiently. The scientists say, if put use in the medical field, it could lessen doctors' reliance on antibiotics.
The overuse of antibiotics -- in the healthcare industry, as well as on ranches and farms -- is widely blamed for the uptick in drug-resistant superbugs.
The extract's effects weren't tested in humans but in petri dishes. On its own, the extract was moderately effective in fighting E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (the bacteria responsible for most urinary tract infections). But when applied alongside antibiotics, the microbes were quickly defeated.
"We would have to do in vivo tests, and eventually clinical trials, before we can say what the effect would be in humans," lead researcher Nathalie Tufenkji, a chemical engineering professor at McGill, said in a press release. "But the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage. I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of antibiotics."
When they probed further, Tufenkji and her team found that the extract suppressed bacterial genes related to the germs' virulence and ability to ward off the attacks of antibiotics.
The research was published latest issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.