A Honey of a Cure Patients Needed to Participate in Clinical Trial to Examine the Effects of Treating MRSA

The collaborative efforts of two local doctors, San Juan Regional Medical Center and San Juan College surrounding a study examining the effects of treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) wounds  with local honey is making progress.

Working with the College and SJRMC, Dr. Joseph Pope, family practitioner, and Dr. R. Stephen Rankin, pediatrician, have established a multidisciplinary group that includes SJC faculty and staff from the medical laboratory technology program, biology and technology services. Dr. Rankin is serving as the primary investigator, overseeing the clinical trial planning committee whose members include Dr. Pope, Mary Doshi, SJC Medical Laboratory Technology associate professor; Dr. Don Hyder professor of biology, Lynn Lane, SJC technology trainer and Beth Philips, research consultant and SJRMC Institutional Review Board administrator.

Currently, Doshi has shown that the local honey is effective in laboratory cultured MRSA samples, and the research group has received FDA approval to move forward with clinical trials.

Patients are still needed to complete the study, and Dr. Joseph Pope, family practitioner, and Dr. R. Stephen Rankin, a pediatrician, are encouraging those eligible for the study to contact Pinon Family Practice at 505-324-1000. To date, the study has currently involved seven patients, however, approximately 30 to 40 patients are still needed to complete the study.  

MRSA is a staph bacterium that doesn’t respond to the first-line antibiotics that usually cure this type of staph infection. While people are often fearful of MRSA, it is actually far more common and present in everyday life than realized. It can be found on a door handle, just like other known bacteria and viruses, but is difficult to treat. 

“MRSA has become a real challenge,” Dr. Pope said. “It is difficult to treat that type of infection because the MRSA bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. Our hypothesis is that honey grown in Northwestern New Mexico will be safer and better than antibiotics.”

Any person ages 16-79 can participate in the study with the following:

  • An abscess less than or equal to 6 cm in diameter on the extremity (arms or legs), or trunk (chest, abdomen or back) requiring incision and drainage.
  • Consent to try honey prepared dressing.
  • The ability to return to the office each day for seven days for evaluation

Those with any of the following exclusionary criteria will not be allowed to participate in the study:

  • Under the age of 16 and age 80 or older
  • Have an underlying immune system disease
  • Abscess of face, scalp, breast or genitals, hands or feet
  • Diagnosed as a diabetic
  • Pregnancy
  • Allergic to bee pollen, honey or sulfa antibiotics and lidocaine
  • Diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease
  • Patient acknowledgement of current drug or alcohol abuse

All patients in the study will receive treatment of their wound for free. All patients will be treated with either honey or antibiotics but patients will not get a choice.

“Honey is really an old remedy,” Dr. Rankin said. “In many different cultures and in many different parts of the world, honey has been commonly used to treat wounds for a long time. Honey also appears to have a safe profile as far as treatments go. It has very few side effects, especially compared to antibiotics.” 

For more information about the study or to inquire about eligibility, contact Pinon Family Practice at 505-324-1000.