A recent RTE article an unlikely scientist who discovered an even more unlikely new source for antibiotics: blackberries. Simon Meehan is a 15-year-old student who took home the top prize in the 30th EU Contest for Young Scientists for his work with antibiotics. Inspired by his herbalist grandfather, Meehan collected samples of ten common plants in 40% ethanol and then tested them for their antimicrobial effects on the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.
He found that two of the extracts, blackberry and a root extract of Mare’s tail, effectively killed an antibiotic resistant strain of Staph, MRSA. Meehan noted, “These are organic, they don’t harbor any toxicity that you may get from industrialized antibiotics.” The student is now awaiting a patent on the extraction method he used to convert the plant to an antimicrobial.