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Lab Reports
April 4, 2017

Skin’s Natural Bacteria May Protect Against Pathogens

JAMA. 2017;317(13):1307. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3111

New research published in Science Translational Medicine indicates that bacteria normally residing on human skin can produce antimicrobial peptides that effectively kill Staphylococcus aureus and might be used to help treat atopic dermatitis (AD) and other conditions exacerbated by this pathogen.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and their colleagues conducted high-throughput screening for antimicrobial activity against S aureus on 2029 bacterial colonies collected from the skin of 30 healthy individuals and 5695 colonies from skin areas with and without lesions of 49 patients with AD. They found that antimicrobial activity was common in samples from the healthy controls but rare in samples from patients with AD. Bacterial clones with antimicrobial activity were least abundant on individuals whose skin culture tested positive for S aureus. This was observed mostly in patients with AD, but a low frequency of clones with antimicrobial activity was also observed in a healthy individual with a positive S aureus skin culture.