How successfully a wound heals may be influenced by the presence of specific types of microbes in the wound, even if these microbes are not prevalent enough to be infectious, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, details how researchers determined that the presence of microbes in a wound may have important implications towards how that wound would heal.
“We also hypothesized that different microorganisms could be associated with or unsuccessful healing, and we felt that this information could be used for guiding medical treatment,” first author Nicholas Be said in an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) press release.
“This surprising finding further emphasizes the need for specific molecular detection,” Be said, adding that paying special attention to microbial population in a wound could medical professionals develop personal treatment options for patients with serious wounds.According to Be, he and his team observed that the presence of certain bacteria in a wound, even if they were not prevalent enough to form an infection, could negatively impact how a wound healed – causing a slow and partial heal, or a failure to heal entirely. Surprisingly, the team also discovered that some bacteria – particularly those commonly associated with the gastrointestinal , like E. coli and Bacteroides species – were present in wounds that healed particularly well.
According to the study, Be and his team did not use traditional culture samples like commonly done with wounds. Instead, they used a microbial detection microarray developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – a test capable of detecting the genetic information of any microorganism that has been archived.
The researchers analyzed 124 wound samples in all, from 61 wounds in 44 patients injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, determining which bacteria were associated with a positive or negative healing outcome.
According to Be, while the results of these analyses only show an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship, it is enough to imply that “information on the presence of specific bacteria that more significantly affect the of the healing response could guide therapy and allow for more prediction of outcome.”