An interesting study from February of 2013 discusses the possibility of using probiotics to treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). This probiotic would use the fermentation of glycerol by Propionibacterium acnes in order to treat MRSA as a bacterial interference therapy. The paper defines bacterial interference as the use of commensal bacteria to prevent colonization of pathogenic microbes. P. acnes is a normal skin resident microbe that is the paper notes is hosted by everyone, is known to be able to ferment carbohydrates to propionic acid, which has antimicrobial properties. In fact, some of the results of this paper suggest that propionic acid could potentially have broad anti- S. aureus activity, while potentially not harmfully disrupting the normal skin microbiome. The paper notes that the body exploits the fermentation of P. acnes in deep, anaerobic abscesses to prevent the entry of S. aureus into the bloodstream, reducing the risk of S. aureus infections.This means that it is possible that this process exists as a natural part of the microbiome that exists on our skin.
I believe that it is possible that this study and perhaps more that may validate or strengthen these findings could have huge implications for the treatment of infections and potentially diseases. This treatment in particular would be especially useful because MRSA is resistant to common antibiotics. However, if more sources of naturally occurring treatment could be found, it is perhaps possible that we could get rid of or at least lower unnecessary uses of antibiotics, in turn hopefully reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance. If more treatments like this are found, they could be used to treat other bacterial ailments without having a negative, disruptive effect on the microbiome. More research should be done on these type of treatments in order to determine when they are possible and how effective they could be.
Here is the link to the study: