Improved identification of war wound infections promises more successful treatment

May 29, 2014

War wounds that heal successfully frequently contain different microbial species from those that heal poorly, according to a paper published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. These and other findings have important implications for improving wound healing, says first author Nicholas Be of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California.

The problem the researchers were addressing is that culture-based identification, which has been used to assay war , misses the many species that are difficult or impossible to culture. But Be and his collaborators posited that using microarrays and whole to detect in wound samples would reveal infections caused by microbes that cannot be cultured, as these molecular methods can detect all species for which reference DNA is available.

"We also hypothesized that different microorganisms could be associated with successful or unsuccessful healing, and we felt that this information could be used for guiding medical treatment," says Be.

In the study, the investigators found that genetic sequences from certain bacteria, including Pseudomonas species and Acinetobacter baumannii, were frequently observed in that failed to heal, while bacteria typically associated with the gastrointestinal system, such as E. coli and Bacteroides species, were found in wounds that did heal successfully.

"This surprising finding further emphasizes the need for specific molecular detection," says Be. "We also observed via whole genome sequencing that the complex microbial populations present in wounds vary between patients and change over time in a single patient, further emphasizing the need for personalized treatment of individual wounds."

The investigators examined 124 wound samples from 61 wounds in 44 patients injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. They used a microbial detection microarray developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which contains DNA probes capable of detecting any microorganisms that have previously been sequenced.

"This represents a cost-effective, high-throughput platform for analysis of wound infections," says Be. A subset of samples was also subjected to whole genome sequencing.

"Information on the presence of specific bacteria that more significantly affect the success of the healing response could guide therapy and allow for more accurate prediction of outcome," says Be. "More effective, specific, and timely diagnosis of infection would improve treatment, accelerate rehabilitation, and decrease the length of hospital stays."

The manuscript can be found online. The final version of the article is scheduled for the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Explore further: New finding may help accelerate diabetic wound healing

Related Stories

Researchers explain why some wound infections become chronic

December 17, 2013

Chronic wounds affect an estimated 6.5 million Americans at an annual cost of about $25 billion. Further, foot blisters and other diabetic ulcers or sores account for the vast majority of foot and leg amputations in the United ...

Promising role for interleukin-10 in scarless wound healing

May 8, 2014

The powerful anti-inflammatory compound interleukin-10 (IL-10) plays a crucial role in regenerative, scarless healing of fetal skin. Studies of IL-10 in postnatal skin wounds have demonstrated its promise as an anti-scarring ...

Recommended for you

Researchers grow retinal nerve cells in the lab

November 30, 2015

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a method to efficiently turn human stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the type of nerve cells located within the retina that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain. ...

Shining light on microbial growth and death inside our guts

November 30, 2015

For the first time, scientists can accurately measure population growth rates of the microbes that live inside mammalian gastrointestinal tracts, according to a new method reported in Nature Communications by a team at the ...

Functional human liver cells grown in the lab

November 26, 2015

In new research appearing in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, an international research team led by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem describes a new technique for growing human hepatocytes in the laboratory. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.