Written by Alex Crees
New research indicates vitamin B3, also known as nicotinamide, may be able to fight off antibiotic-resistant staph infections that have plagued hospitals and killed thousands worldwide.
Staph infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are increasingly prevalent in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and the military, as well as other settings where people are in close contact with each other. The spread of these infections is attributed to the overuse of antibiotics, leading bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs.
“Finding new ways to fight antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ has become a priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) in the past 10 years,” senior study author Dr. George Liu, associate professor of pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, told FoxNews.com. “MRSA recently surpassed HIV in terms of mortality, so it became much more urgent of a problem.”
In a study, Liu and his colleagues found when vitamin B3 was administered at clinical doses far higher than what would be found in a normal diet, it increased the ability of immune cells to kill staph bacteria by approximately 1,000 times – in as little as a few hours. The effect was observed in both laboratory animals and human blood samples.
“Nicotinamide greatly increased the ability of the immune system to kill pathogens - there were very few left surviving [after 24 hours],” researcher Adrian Gombart, associate professor at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, told FoxNews.com. “On the surface, it looks very promising, but we need to do studies in humans.”
According to the researchers, vitamin B3 fought off staph infections by increasing the number and effectiveness of white blood cells called neutrophils. These specialized blood cells are responsible for killing and eating harmful bacteria in the body.
The study researchers hope the findings may be a new approach in the fight against growing numbers of superbugs.