Tuesday 12 August 2014

The Wound Microbiome

Knowing precisely the microbes present in a wound could greatly aid in the prevention and treatment of infections. This is especially important when dealing with the severe injuries that soldiers can suffer in combat.

Tending to injured soldiers in combat is “among the most complex and challenging seen in modern medicine,”  according to Eric Elster, a professor and chairman of the Uniformed Services University’s surgery department, who has discussed the subject in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Elster and his colleagues report on a method for rapidly detecting the microbiota of U.S. service members hurt in combat. Their paper is titled "Microbial profiling of combat wound infection through detection microarray and next-generation sequencing".

For the study, the researchers analyzed tissue samples taken from 44 soldiers who had been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and subsequently evacuated. The most common microbe they detected, present in about a quarter of the wounds, was one called Acinetobacter baumannii. Interestingly, the bacteria they found to be associated with wounds that healed (as opposed to those that would not) are known to colonize the gut. These included Bacteroides, E. coli, Salmonella, and Enterobacter. The research also showed that wound healing was not particularly influenced by the total number of bacteria (the 'bioburden'); the biggest factor were the types of bacteria present. 

“This may reflect changes in immunoregulation and remodeling of the wound, where a microenvironment that is progressing toward healing is an amenable niche to distinct classes of bacteria from an environment that is immunologically distant from successful resolution,” the authors wrote in their report.

Outlining thus further Elster told the LA Times: “Studies such as this one will allow us to better understand the interaction between the body and pathogens, and develop new treatment strategies."
Posted by Tim Sandle

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