A chemical found in garlic can kill bacteria that cause life-threatening lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, research suggests.

The study is the first to show that the chemical – known as allicin – could be an effective treatment against a group of infectious bacteria that is highly resistant to most antibiotics.

Allicin is produced naturally by garlic bulbs to ward off a closely-related group of plant pathogens found in soil and water habitats. In the 1980s, the bacteria – known as the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) – emerged as a cause of serious and transmissible lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis.