Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Project investigating Himalayan oregano as MRSA antibacterial agent wins SEED award

30.10.2008
A research team from the University of the West of England, working in partnership with a laboratory in Delhi, a fair trade company, a community-based organisation and an environmental research institute in Himachal Pradesh in the Western Himalaya, have jointly been awarded a 2008 SEED award for their project investigating Himalayan oregano essential oil as an antibacterial agent for MRSA.

The project is part of an initiative to provide rural communities with sources of income generated from sustainable collection of non-timber forest products in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Origanum vulgare is a relatively common herb that grows in high altitude meadows throughout the Himalayan region, yet it is perceived by many villagers to have no culinary, medicinal or economic value. In Kullu oregano is often referred to as ‘bekaar gahaas’, or ‘useless grass’; even cows and goats don’t eat it.

Recent research by UWE in the UK and SGS in Delhi has shown that the essential oil of Himalayan oregano oil contains potent antibacterial properties and is very effective at killing the hospital superbug MRSA. These findings have presented a valuable opportunity to develop a range of antibacterial products that would provide a sustainable source of income to rural communities in the Himalaya, and at the same time introduce an environmentally friendly means of helping to prevent the spread of MRSA in hospitals in the UK.

The SEED Initiative is an international programme backed by the UN that promotes and supports entrepreneurial partnerships that develop innovative, locally led solutions to the global challenges of sustainable development. The SEED awards provide backing to projects that are in an early stage of development and have high potential for growth and replication. The Himalayan Oregano project was one of five winners selected from over 400 global applications.

Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP, said of the 2008 awards: "The SEED Awards again underline that creative and entrepreneurial solutions to many of the pressing challenges facing the world are being found. It is now vital that these shining examples are federated and mainstreamed across communities and countries to maximize their undoubted and potentially significant impact."

One of the lead partners of the project in India, Biolaya Organics, is a company that is developing projects aimed at conserving endangered medicinal herbs, both by cultivating threatened species, and by providing alternative sources of income to herb collectors through sustainable collection and value addition of more common species such as oregano.

Ben Heron from Biolaya Organics explains, “We started working with oregano because it is a species that, if managed properly, can be collected year after year without depleting the population in the wild. Our aim is to be able to pay the local herb collectors the equivalent amount that they would normally earn from collecting endangered medicinal herb species so that they become less dependent on the extraction of these plants for their livelihoods.

“It has been known for some time that Mediterranean oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial, which is said to be due to the high content of a compound called carvacol. As far as we know nobody has tested the carvacol content of Himalayan oregano oil before, so we teamed up with SGS in Delhi to conduct tests and found that it was equally as potent as the Mediterranean variety.

“Further tests in the SGS laboratory found that the Himalayan oregano oil killed MRSA more effectively than all 18 antibiotics that it was compared against. We have recently linked up with UWE’s microbiology department who are now carrying out more rigorous tests, and hope to publish the results in a scientific journal.”

UWE’s project leader Professor Vyv Salisbury and co-investigator Dr Shona Nelson are very excited at the opportunity to help the community. Vyv said, “We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapour and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water. This is exciting as it also means that we could consider using the oil to develop disinfectant washing powders. We now aim to conduct a focused academic study in partnership with SGS labs in Delhi that we hope will give the project the academic credence needed to market the oil.

“We hope that our study will help take the project to the next stage where, with the help of UWE’s Research, Business and Innovation department we find a business partner to help us produce a range of products that we can market for medical and domestic settings. Once we are able to start providing a sustainable income for villages in Kullu, the scope for up-scaling and replication in other parts of the Himalayan region is enormous.”

The SEED award will be presented to the team at the SEED award conference on Monday 17 November, at the German Embassy in Delhi by the German Minister of Environment, Sigmar Gabriel.

Jane Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/article.asp?item=1374
http://biolaya.com/index.html
http://science.uwe.ac.uk/research/homePage.aspx?pageId=cribHome

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli
26.04.2017 | University of the Basque Country

nachricht New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>