A 15-year-old Irish boy by the name of Simon Meehan has received high praise for discovering that natural chemicals within blackberries can potentially kill Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria known – and dreaded – for being resistant to antibiotics.
According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistant bacteria poses “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”
In a nutshell, infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis are becoming harder and harder to treat as they evolve and become immune to common antibiotics available in medicine today.
All of this goes to show just how big of a deal Simon Meehan’s discovery is.
According to The Irish Times, Meehan discovered the super antibiotic-resistant properties of the blackberry extract simply by experimenting with 10 plants in his area.
According to BTPLC, those plants included asparagus and nettles. Eventually, Meehan found that it was blackberries that contain a chemical capable of preventing bacterial growth.
“People are going deep into the Amazon rainforest looking for new antibiotics,” The Irish Times quotes him as stating. “But I’m a 15-year-old boy who found this down his own back garden. That has got to be amazing.”
“The unexpected findings deliver a unique approach to killing bacteria using natural plant active ingredients,” said Professor John O’Halloran, one of the judges of the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, stated in praise of Meehan’s winning project.
“The rigor of the approach adopted by Simon set his project apart from competitors and made him our overall winner.”
Meehan cites his grandfather’s work as inspiration for his own. His grandfather, Eddie Lucey is – according to The Irish Times – a well-known herbalist and science teacher.
Eddie, 82, is reportedly known for helping people heal through the use of herbs grown in his own backyard.
“He has inspired my work,” The Irish Times quotes Meehan as stating. “I am indebted to him for my knowledge.”
Judging by the magnitude of Meehan’s discovery, it seems we’re all indebted to him and his grandfather.
Learn more about Meehan’s incredible discovery – and the award it earned him – below.