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Bacteria, Wikimedia

Researchers have found that a common antibacterial substance found in toothpaste may combat life-threatening diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) when combined with a drug.

The study, published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, found that when triclosan — a substance that reduces or prevents bacteria from growing — is combined with an antibiotic called tobramycin, it kills the cells that protect the CF bacteria, known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, by up to 99.9 per cent.


CF is a common genetic disease with one in every 2,500 to 3,500 people diagnosed with it at an early age. It results in a thick mucus in the lungs, which becomes a magnet for bacteria.

These bacteria are notoriously difficult to kill because they are protected by a slimy barrier known as a biofilm, which allows the disease to thrive even when treated with antibiotics, the researcher said.

“The problem that we’re really tackling is finding ways to kill these biofilms,” said lead author Chris Waters, Professor at the Michigan State University.


According to the researcher, there are many common biofilm-related infections that people get such as ear infections and swollen, painful gums caused by gingivitis.

But more serious, potentially fatal diseases join the ranks of CF including endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, as well as infections from artificial hip and pacemaker implants, the researcher added.

For the study, the researchers grew 6,000 biofilms in petri dishes, added in tobramycin along with many different compounds, to see what worked better at killing the bacteria.

Also Read: Indian scientists say endosulfan damages liver, lungs, male fertility in mice

Twenty-five potential compounds were effective, but one stood out, the researcher said.

“It’s well known that triclosan, when used by itself, isn’t effective at killing Pseudomonas aeruginosa. But when I saw it listed as a possible compound to use with tobramycin, I was intrigued. We found triclosan was the one that worked every time,” said Alessandra Hunt from the Michigan State University. (IANS)


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