In one of its recent editions, the Pharmazeutische Zeitung reported on a study by US scientists which looked at the treatment of atopic dermatitis. The researchers used bacteria to formulate skin creams which they then applied to the patients’ skin. Their aim was to boost the number of natural good bacteria to achieve a reduction in the number of Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogenic bacterium which is prevalent in atopic dermatitis.
According to the paper, they were able, in a phase I clinical trial, “to decrease in patients with atopic dermatitis colonisation with harmful bacteria which exacerbate the condition”. This is reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine by Teruaki Nakatsuji, PhD, and his team at UC San Diego. The scientists had examined different skin bacteria “for antimicrobial properties and found that some strains of Streptococcus the species S. hominis und S. epidermidis produced antimicrobial peptides (AMPs).” These previously undiscovered substances were highly potent and selectively killed S. aureus.
Clinical studies had shown a high antimicrobial effect on the skin of healthy people, but only limited activity on that of patients suffering from atopic dermatitis. The reverse was true when it came to the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Hence, the researchers began by isolating antimicrobial strains from five patients, grew the strains and formulated them in a skin cream – each patient received the cream best suited to him. This was applied once to the forearm which resulted in a significant decrease of the pathogen within 24 hours, as the paper reports.
A phase II clinical trial will now evaluate whether prolonged application of the personalised cream will achieve a permanent reduction of the disease-causing bacterium. There is, however, already one evident advantage compared to conventional treatment with antibiotics. If applied similar to the study, it is active only against a specific pathogen, protects the skin flora and achieves a healthy balance of good and harmful bacteria. Substances such as ibiotics stimulans, which is already available on the market, are based on the same principle.