Making a surprising discovery, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have found that cranberry juice cocktail blocked a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) from beginning the process of infection.
The WPI researchers were expanding the scope of previous pioneering work on the mechanisms of bacterial infection.
"Most of our work with cranberry juice has been with E. coli and urinary tract infections, but we included Staphylococcus aureus in this study because it is a very serious health threat. This is early data, but the results are surprising," said Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at WPI.
The virulent form of E. coli that Camesano studies is the primary cause of most urinary tract infections.
Strains of S. aureus can cause a range of "staph infections" from minor skin rashes to serious bloodstream infections.
One particular strain, known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a growing public health problem in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions because it doesn't respond to most antibiotics.
To cause an infection, bacteria must first adhere to a host, then gather together in colonies to form a biofilm.