A community of millions of different bacteria – referred to as the microbiome – populate our skin. It consists of good, healthy bacteria which keep pathogenic bacteria (which cause infections) down to a level at which both our skin flora and the protective skin barrier remain at a healthy balance. Once the microbiome becomes unbalanced, pathogenic bacteria may predominate and facilitate skin conditions such as acne, atopic eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. In this case, the skin’s bacterial shield becomes impaired.
If we wish to prevent skin diseases over the long-term, or use purely probiotic or microbiotic ways of treatment – i.e. foregoing the use of drugs such as cortisone – it would be helpful to have precise knowledge of the composition of the skin’s microbiome. Because once we are aware which bacterial species are present, and which of those nurture or disrupt the skin microbiome’s balance, we become able to tailor probiotic therapies (by contrast to, e.g., the administration of antibiotics) to individual needs.
A team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a method which relies on the enzyme benzonase to achieve a more precise analysis of the microbiome. This approach, reports the TUM, opens new avenues for diagnosis and treatment in dermatology.
The university’s press release further states: “Benzonase has been used for some time, for example to purify proteins. […] The selection of skin bacteria functions according to the same principle: Genetic material from skin cells or dead bacteria is broken up by the enzyme and can then be separated from the sample. The remaining bacteria can be destroyed mechanically, permitting the study of their DNA.”
Using these findings, scientists will now be able to identify even more precisely the pathogens which are biomarkers for certain dermatological diseases, and determine the healthy, good bacteria which have positive influence on the progression of a disease. The TUM has stated that the new method for analyzing the microbiome is already used in many cohort studies on skin diseases.
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