A recent study presented at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, Calif., suggests interplay between skin cells and skin-dwelling bacteria could influence how quickly wounds heal.
“This study gives us a much better understanding of the types of bacterial species that are found in skin wounds, how our cells might respond to the bacteria and how that interaction can affect healing,” Matthew Hardman, PhD, a senior research fellow at the University of Manchester Healing Foundation Centre, stated in a press release. “It’s our hope that these insights could help lead to better treatments to promote wound healing that are based on sound biology.”
Hardman and colleagues compared the skin bacteria from patients with chronic wounds that healed with bacteria from patients with wounds that did not heal. Study results showed different bacterial communities among the two groups, suggesting there may be a bacterial signature of a wound that refuses to heal.
In a series of additional studies, the researchers found the absence of a single gene, known to help cells recognize and respond to bacteria, resulted in a different array of skin microbiota, including more harmful bacteria, in wounds that healed more slowly. Hardman said the findings suggest genetic factors influence the makeup of bacteria on an individual’s skin and influence how they heal.
“Our data clearly support the idea that one could swab a wound, profile the bacteria that are there and then be able to tell whether the wound is likely to heal quickly or persist, which could impact treatment decisions,” Hardman stated.
Future studies on the roles of skin bacteria could help inform new treatment approaches that protect against harmful bacteria without eliminating bacterial communities that may play a beneficial role, he said.