Scientists have discovered a strain of bacteria found on healthy cats, that has the ability to produce antibiotics that can combat severe skin infections. This new discovery could lead to new bacteriotherapies for producing topical creams or sprays in the treatment of skin diseases in humans and pets.

According to the researchers, colonies of bacteria of hundreds of bacterial species feed off on our skin, although some that do are helpful rather than harmful to as they help in fighting infection. Some others help strengthen our immunity that enables our skin to stay healthy. These healthy skin bacteria are found in every species as it fights infectious agents.

According to Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD, our skin health definitely depends on the good bacteria that live in our skin. He and his team of researchers are experts in using bacteria and their products as a treatment for illnesses, using a scientific approach known as “bacteriotherapy”.

Dr. Gallo explained how the colony of bacteria protects us from bad bacteria in exchange for a healthy skin to live in. However in instances when we get sick, the bad bacteria takes advantage of our weakened state and cause infections. An example of a bacteria that does this is the Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP), which is a methicillin-resistant bacterium usually found on domesticated animals that becomes infectious when injured or sick.

MRSP is a pathogen that can jump from species to species and cause eczema, or severe atopic dermatitis. It is usually common in cats and dogs but there are instances where it infected humans in varying degrees of infection depending on the location. This pathogen is resistant to common antibiotics, which makes treatment hard in veterinary and clinical places.

The Search for MRSP Cure, About to End

As a means to tackle MRSP, researchers screened a library of bacteria that commonly lives on cats and dogs, then grew these bacteria alongside MRSP. Through this step, they found a strain of cat bacteria that was particularly exceptional in stopping MSRP from growing. This special strain of Staphylococcus felis (S. felis) has the ability to produce multiple antibiotics naturally showing strong capabilities to disrupt the MRSP’s cell walls and through an increase in the production of toxic free radicals.

After studying how the S. felis kills the pathogen, they then experimented its use as medication on a group of mice exposed to the most common form of MRSP. Results showed that there is a reduction in redness and scaling of the skin after the bacteriotherapy, compared to those who didn’t receive the treatment.

The effect of the S. felis treatment showed less viable MSRP bacteria found on the skin of the mice. Still, a clinical trial is needed to know whether S. felis can also be used to treat MSRP infections in dogs. Bacteriotherapies such as this can be administered through topical sprays, gels, or creams that has a purified extract of the of the antimicrobial peptides, or live bacteria.