(CBS NEWS) -- The red berries of the Brazilian peppertree — a weed commonly found in Florida — contains an extract that could disarm a deadly superbug, according to new research.

The scientists at Emory University who conducted the laboratory study say the findings may hold potential for new ways to treat and prevent antibiotic-resistant infections, a growing problem worldwide.

For hundreds of years, traditional healers in the Amazon have used the Brazilian peppertree to treat infections of the skin and soft tissues.

“In the old literature, the fruits were prepared as a balm and topically applied to treat wounds and ulcers,” lead researcher Cassandra Quave, an assistant professor in Emory’s Center for the Study of Human Health and in the School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology, told CBS News. “That’s what put it on our radar.”

Quave’s research focuses on how indigenous people use plants in healing practices.

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