Prob-eye-otic therapy: Insects on your eyeballs could be used to treat diseases

You may be aware of the idea that there is an accumulation of microbes in the gut and in the skin – fungi, bacteria and viruses.It's important to stay healthy. But did you know that your eyes also harbor a unique menagerie of microbes? Together they call the eye microbiomeWhen these microbes are out of balance– too many or too few specific types – eye diseases can occur.

In a recent study demonstrating that bacteria live on the surface of the eye and stimulate protective immunity, scientists are beginning to discover the microbial factors needed to develop innovative treatments for various eye conditions, such as than dry eye. Sjögren's syndrome and corneal scars can be used. One day, it may be possible to develop a bacterium to treat diseases of the human eye.

I am an immunologist who studies how the eye prevents infections. I was interested in this area because people only have two eyes and understand how bacteria affect immunity may be the key to avoiding up to 1 million doctor visits for eye infections and $ 174 million a year just in the United States. to save.

Representative image: Iris green, blue and purple. A multicolored human eye.

eye microbiome

In the discussion of microbiomeMost scientists generally think of the intestines, and rightly so. The researchers think that a colonist can sheltering more than 10 trillion bacteriaIn this context, more attention is now being paid to the effects microbiome have to at other places including the Skin and areas with very few bacteria such as lungs, vagina and eyes.

Over the last decade, the role of microbiome in eye health was controversialScientists believed that he lacked a healthy organized look microbiomeStudies have shown that bacteria in the air, hands or margins of the eyelids may be present on the eyes. However, many thought that these microbes were simply killed or swept away by the constant flow of tears.

Scientists have recently come to the conclusion that the eye actually had a "core". microbiome it seems to depend on Age, geographic area, ethnicity, wear and condition of contact lenses. The "core" is limited to four types of bacteria staphylococci. diphtheroids. Propionibacterium acnes and streptococcus, In addition to these bacteria, the couple Teno virusinvolved in some intraocular Diseases, also counts as a member of the core microbiome as it is present on the surface of the eye of 65% of people in good health.

This suggests that physicians should take a closer look at the risks and health benefits microbiome when prescribing antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria for the eyes.

In a recent study of more than 340,000 American patients, the authors found that antibiotics were used to treat 60% of cases of acute conjunctivitis (pink eye). But viral infections are the most likely causes of pink eyes and can not be treated with antibiotics. The most visible cases, even bacterial ones, often disappear within 7 to 10 days without interventionIt is well known that excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics may affect the effect microbiomeleads to Infection, autoimmunity and even cancer.

Discovery of an eye colon microbe

Over the last ten years, studies on the evaluation of the eye microbiome and the disease exploded. They generated a huge amount of data, but most are correlative. This means that certain bacteria have been linked to certain diseases, such as: Sjogren's syndrome or bacterial keratitisHowever, it is not known if these bacteria cause these diseases.

During my stay at the National Eye Institute, I used mice to see if a bacterium on the surface of the eye could trigger an immune response to protect the eye of the eye. endangered pathogens such as bacteria. Pseudomonas aeuruginosa,

In 2016 eye immunologist Rachel Caspi At the National Eye Institute and I have hypothesized that protective bacteria live near or on the eye. In fact, we found a resident bacterium, Corynebacterium mastitidis (C. mast), which stimulates the production and release of antimicrobial factors by immune cells that kill harmful microbes in tears.

Through a series of experiments, the Caspi laboratory was the first to show a causal link between C. mast and a protective immune response. Every time C. mast present on the ocular surface, the mice were more resistant to two types of bacteria known to cause blindness: candida Albikaner and Pseudomonas aeuruginosa,

Now, we want to use this relationship in my lab C. mast and Eye Immunity, to develop new therapies to prevent infections and possibly fight common diseases such as dry eye.

Development of microbes to improve eye health

The first step in developing such therapies is to discover how bacteria colonize the eye. To do this, my lab collaborates with the University of Pittsburgh's Campbell Lab, which has one of the largest collections of human eye bacteria in the country. Using our unique experimental setup with mice and advanced genetic analysis, we can use this microbial library to identify the specific factors required for colonization of the ocular surface by microbes.

Then with the ophthalmologists and optometrists of the UPMC Eye centerWe begin to analyze the immune signatures in the eyes of healthy and sick patients. We hope to use this technology as a new diagnostic tool to fight against pathogens rather than immediately treat infections with broad-spectrum antibiotics that also kill good microbes.

One of our main goals is to develop a genetically modified bacteria that turns the eyes into a long-term vector of transmission to the surface of the eye. It has been proven that genetically modified bacteria in the intestine relieved diseases such as colitis.

We hope this newsoticThe therapy would serve to secrete immunoregulatory factors, which with diseases such as Dry eye, which affects approximately 4 million people each year in the United States.

There is still much to be learned in this developing field before doctors can begin to manipulate the eye microbiome To fight diseases. But maybe one day, instead of just injecting eye drops into your dry eyes, you inject a solution containing bacteria that colonize your eye and secrete lubricants and other factors that are lacking in your body. Stay tuned.

Tony St. Leger is Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh.

This article has been republished in The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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