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New bacteriophages identified in skin microbiome

A research study from Vienna has reported that bacteriophages found in the skin microbiome of patients with AD may lead to the development of novel treatment approaches.

A team led by Wolfgang Weninger, Head of the Department of Dermatology at the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Wien), discovered differences in the microbiome of inflamed and non-inflamed skin. The study was published in Science Advances.

This may be one explanation for the overpopulation of Staphylococcus aureus on the skin of patients with AD, they report.

"In our study, we discovered previously unknown phages in the microbiome of the skin samples of AD patients, which help certain bacteria to grow faster in different ways," reported first authors Karin Pfisterer and Matthias Wielscher from the Department of Dermatology at MedUni Wien in a press release.

The researchers note there are 10³¹ different phage species. The phages are very specific—most specialize in a particular genus and in many cases target only a single species of bacteria. Once their target is identified, the phages could be used to reduce particular bacteria such as S. aureus, for example.

According to the study abstract, the researchers identified 28 vMAGs (viral metagenome-assembled genomes) that differed significantly between normal and AD skin. “Our data indicate that normal and inflamed skin harbor distinct phageomes and suggest a causative relationship between changing viral and bacterial communities as a driver of skin pathology,” they wrote.


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