Israeli scientists said they used a natural chemical to make pigs’ wounds heal twice as fast. They hope to be able to develop the substance for human use, and claim it could also become an “alternative to antibiotics in the future.”
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is found in broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables. A research team from Ben-Gurion University studied its effect on bacteria in laboratory conditions, and found that it compromises their ability to function.
The scientists took pigs, each with several wounds, and treated their wounds either with antibiotics or synthetically from DIM. Wounds treated with antibiotics took an average of 10 days to close completely, while wounds treated with DIM ointment took five days.
Teacher. Publishing their findings in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pharmacology, Ariel Koshmaru and colleagues are working to develop the chemical into an ointment for animals. They are also exploring whether they have health benefits as food additives for animals.
“What we’ve seen in our experience is that wounds heal faster when treated with DIM,” Koshmaru told The Times of Israel.
They’ve also seen why.
Antibiotics kill the layer of bacteria on the wound. A layer of new tissue grows, but you also have dead tissue and dead bacteria. With DIM, since no bacteria is actually killed, there is no layer of dead tissue and no dead bacteria, so shutdown is faster. “
The team’s long-term goal is to test DIM on human wounds, and help launch a new approach to human medicine. Koshmaru said his research is exciting because of the mechanism it demonstrates. “This is a game changer, and a new concept for antimicrobial therapy,” Koshmaru said.
He added that although the approach is very different from antibiotics, it could become a staple in the fight against bacteria in the future, much like antibiotics today.
DIM interferes with communication between bacteria, similar to jammers that interfere with radio or mobile phone communications. “Bacteria talk to each other using chemical signals, and by blocking or jamming that communication, you isolate each bacteria so that they are on their own,” Koshmaru said.
“This contact prompts bacteria to express virulent genes, and when they don’t do so they become less virulent and more susceptible to antibiotics and the immune system.”
There is growing interest internationally in the possibility of inhibiting bacteria by harming communications, and Koshmaru said he is optimistic his research will make a significant contribution.
Koshmaru and colleagues, including Dr. Karina Golberg and Professor Dr. Robert Marks, hopes to have a certified animal product within five years. DIM is already used in some cancer treatments, but new use for the brand will take time to develop and gain approval, so Koshmaru believes it will take more than a decade before any product can be developed for humans.
However, he is very optimistic about his long-term potential.
“The idea of somehow disrupting the connection between bacteria is more promising than antibiotics,” Koshmaru said. “This could be an alternative to antibiotics in the future.”
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