New Atopic Dermatitis Therapy Will Involve Bacterial Transplant

Atopic dermatitis sufferers may benefit from a new therapy on the horizon. Only two years after researchers behind one novel atopic dermatitis drug asserted that atopic dermatitis is an autoimmune disease, a totally different therapeutic approach may be on its way. Between 1 and 3 percent of adults suffer from eczema, but 10 to 20 percent of children have this autoimmune condition, according to a paper in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. What's more, six out of every 10 infants who have eczema will continue to have one or more symptoms of it into adulthood. Products to treat atopic dermatitis are in high demand. Among the most interesting of the novel atopic dermatitis treatments that may be available is a therapy that will involve bacterial transplants.

People with atopic dermatitis may soon have the option of applying a cream made from bacteria that secrete antimicrobial peptides to treat their eczema. While it may seem unusual to apply bacteria to broken, irritated skin, researchers say that this might be exactly what is needed to combat Staphylococcus aureus infections or colonization among eczema sufferers. It is now common for this type of bacteria to be resistant to antibiotics once used to fight it. Often presenting as boils, severe rashes, or abscesses, MRSA infections are a major worry for parents of children with atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis causes are speculatory, but it's an autoimmune disease.
Chronic inflammation and skin infections are common for children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. [Image by Skyline/Shutterstock]

Scientists from the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues published a paper in Science Translational Medicine explaining that their team discovered that the more dangerous bacteria can be kept in check when friendlier bacteria are present on the skin. They discovered that people with atopic dermatitis do not have the same protective microbiome on their skin as people with healthy skin have on theirs. The team say that they isolated and grew friendly bacteria and transplanted them to patients with atopic dermatitis as a treatment for their disease.

"Humans are alive with trillions of microorganisms that live in and on the body and outnumber human cells tenfold," Dr. Paddock wrote for Medical News Today putting into perspective how important the human microbiome really is. "Scientists are increasingly coming across examples of how these microbial cells and their genetic material - known as the microbiome - can promote or disrupt human health via their intimate relationship with the immune system."

The scientists screened 10,000 colonies of friendly bacteria found on human skin to determine which were antimicrobial and how common they were on both unhealthy and healthy skin.

"We discovered antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria commonly found on healthy human skin," Dr. Teruaki Nakatsuji, first author of the study, explained. "These novel antimicrobials have selective activity against pathogenic bacteria, but do not harm other commensal bacteria that have a beneficial effect to us."

In the United States, 18 million people have moderate to severe eczema or atopic dermatitis. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA, is a leading cause of death resulting from infection in the United States. As antibiotics that are currently available continue to fail, a treatment like this could be life-saving. Dr. Nakatsuji and the team said that friendlier strains of Staphylococcus, like Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermis, were among the bacteria that had previously unknown antimicrobial properties.

Staph infections are common with atopic dermatitis.
New therapies for people suffering from atopic dermatitis may focus on friendly bacteria rather than steroid creams or antibiotic ointments. [Image by Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock]

"After isolating the good bacteria and growing it, we were able to transplant it back to people who were deficient in it and it had an immediate impact by reducing the amount of S. aureus on the skin," Richard Gallo, senior author on the research, said. A phase II clinical trial is already underway to see if the bacteria can help fight atopic dermatitis symptoms long-term."We now have a rational therapeutic approach for atopic dermatitis by using bacterial transplant technology. It appears that people with this disorder will need to have it reapplied because their body does not naturally promote the growth of these organisms. The good thing is this is easy to do because it's just a cream."

[Featured Image by Skylines/Shutterstock]