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Improving Skin Health With Bacteria?!

Sep 30, 2014 05:49 PM EDT

We all know that certain vitamins, washes, and levels of sun exposure can help maintain your skin's healthy glow, but what about bacteria? Researchers from AOBiome LLC recently tested the theory using specific bacteria as an unusual and little considered skin therapy, and they reported some promising results.

Even if the idea of bacteria and microbes crawling on and inside your body freaks you out, it has long been known that having a balanced microbiome is essential for the human body to resist infection and even regulate itself.

Now, researchers have suggested that the addition of some specific sweat-eating bacteria to our skin can help keep us even healthier. The preliminary results of a recent study supporting this claim were presented at the 5th American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Conference on Beneficial Microbes in Washington, DC just last week.

The bacteria in question, Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), are found nearly everywhere in soil and water and are essential components of the nitrogen cycle and environmental nitrification processes. However, they are normally not found in high concentrations on the human skin.

Scientists from AOBiome LLC, who are pioneering research in bacterial therapy, hypothesized that AOB are uniquely suited for the environment of the human skin because several ammonia oxidation products play important roles in the function of skin, including inflammation, blood vessel relaxation, and even healing.

According to their presentation, the AOBiome researchers used a strain of Nitrosomonas eutropha taken straight from organic soil samples to test their theory.

Half of 24 human volunteers were asked to apply a suspension (gel/cream-like substance) of the live bacteria on the face and scalp for one week. The remaining group used a placebo for the same amount of time.

As expected, the AOB users reported skin health improvement significant enough to be noted, while the placebo group reported insignificant improvement at best. DNA swabbing verified that prior to the study, neither of these groups had AOB microbes on their skin.

"This study shows that live Nitrosomonas are well tolerated and may hold promise as novel, self-regulating topical delivery agents of nitrite and nitric oxide to the human skin," Larry Weiss, AOBiome's Chief Medical Officer, announced at the Washington conference.

It's important to note that these were experimental findings, and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Studies boasting a much larger sample population still need to be conducted.

"Our next step is to conduct clinical trials to assess the therapeutic potential of AOB in patients with acne or diabetic ulcers," Weiss added.

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