FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

New study finds vinegar effective against TB mycobacteria

A team of international researchers recently discovered acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, is effective in killing mycobacteria, including tuberculosis, and may be useful as an inexpensive disinfectant in the laboratories of developing countries.

Researchers from the U.S., France and Venezuela jointly conducted the study, which was published in a recent issue of mBio, an open-access journal from the American Society for Microbiology. One of the researchers, Claudia Cortesia, accidentally stumbled upon the disinfectant properties of vinegar while testing the effects of disinfectants and antibiotics on non-TB mycobacteria.

Cortesia is a postdoctoral fellow of Howard Takiff, senior author of the study and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation in Caracas. After her finding, the team began testing the efficacy of acetic acid in killing other mycobacteria, including TB mycobacteria, considered a biohazard risk.

The team joined forces with researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the University of Montpellier 2 in France to further test the efficacy of acetic acid in killing TB bacteria.

The researchers found that six percent acetic acid was effective in killing TB mycobacteria at various levels of potency. At 10 percent acetic acid, the solution was effective against M. abscessus. The acid was also found to be effective against drug-resistant TB.

"There is a real need for less toxic and less expensive disinfectants that can eliminate TB and non-TB mycobacteria, especially in resource-poor countries," Takiff said. "For now this is simply an interesting observation. Whether it could be useful in the clinic or mycobacteriology labs for sterilizing medical equipment or disinfecting cultures or clinical specimens remains to be determined."