Over the last few decades, antibiotic resistance has become a very serious threat. Strains of common bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus have grown insensitive to antibiotics, leading to extreme strains of diseases that were once curable with antibiotic treatment. Antibiotic resistance is only increasing, but researchers believe they have found the key to bringing antibiotic-resistant strains back under control – HAMLET.

HAMLET, or Human Alpha-Lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor Cells is not a new discovery, but the impact of HAMLET on antibiotic-resistant strains is a new discovery. With further research, experts believe HAMLET may hold the key to increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics in the treatment of conditions like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Streptococcus pneumonia – two of the more dangerous resistant diseases.

Study author Laura Marks admits she pulled the idea for using HAMLET from HIV research and treatment. HIV can be treated using drug cocktails. The cocktails combine drugs that work synergistically to fight off the virus. The result of using drug cocktails to treat HIV has been increased longevity and decreased symptoms. HAMLET changes the sensitivity of antibiotic-resistant strains allowing doctors to treat the conditions with lower doses of antibiotics that were once ineffective. HAMLET even proved beneficial in the treatment of strains resistant to the last-resort drug vancomycin.

Current testing has been completed in Petri dishes, but the results are phenomenal. When HAMLET was added to the petri dish with antibiotics, Streptococcus pneumonia and MRSA were completed eradicated; something researchers had been unable to do in the past. When strains were embedded deep in the noses of lab mice HAMLET helped eradicate those strains as well. The results appear consistent across generations of bacteria and researchers have unsuccessfully to create bacteria that do NOT respond to HAMLET.

Further research is needed before HAMLET is considered safe for human use, but with the source being human breast milk and the rate of antibiotic resistance constantly on the rise, HAMLET may be on the market sooner rather than later.

Source: Laura R. Marks, Emily A. Clementi, Anders P. Hakansson. Sensitization of Staphylococcus aureus to Methicillin and Other Antibiotics In Vitro and In Vivo in the Presence of HAMLET. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e63158 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063158.