VTT in February reported that ellagitannins fractionated from the seeds have strong antimicrobial activity against the bacterium, which causes various difficult-to-treat infections in settings such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The finding was made as part of a project conducted in collaboration with HUS Helsinki University Hospital, the University of Turku and Hospital Universitario Principe de Astúrias.
There has been an increase in the number of refractory wound infections caused by MRSA.
Teemu Kinnari, chief physician at Helsinki University Hospital, said the compounds were found to significantly inhibit the growth of the bacterium in test-tube conditions and accelerated the recovery of a wound in a mouse model.
The compounds have the potential to be used not only to treat wound infections, but also as a skin treatment that protects against an infection before surgery, added Hanna-Leena Alakomi, microbiology expert at VTT.
“We were able to use an environmentally friendly approach to fractionate ellagitannins, whose antimicrobial potential may be used for several applications,” she said.
VTT has studied arctic berries extensively, previously demonstrating their antimicrobial properties and developing and patenting a technology to enrich and fractionate the antimicrobial compounds of wild berries. The joint project made use of the technology, applying it to previously unused side-streams from the berry industry, while the fractionated ellagitannins were purified by chemists at the University of Turku.
Juha-Pekka Salminen, professor of natural compound chemistry at the University of Turku, pointed out that purification enabled the researchers to determine precisely which compounds are relevant for the antimicrobial activity and, as a result, possibly find even more effective substances from the plant kingdom.
“For example, Finnish plants contain plenty of compounds similar to cloudberry ellagitannins that could have corresponding or even better activity against MRSA,” he said.