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Skin Microbiome

Importance of skin microbiome to skin health

Each individual person carries approximately ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. It is estimated that over 100 distinct species making up a total of 1 million microorganisms colonize each square centimeter of our skin. The total microbial community that lives in association with the human body is collectively known as the human microbiota, and the human skin microbiota includes all microbial members found in a particular cutaneous body site habitat. The skin in the human body is the largest organ, colonized by a diverse milieu of microorganism (skin microbiome), most of which are commensal microbes that are harmless or sometimes even beneficial to their host. However, links between commensal skin microbes and skin disease pathology has been reported. The diversity of human microbiota is determined by various factors such as transmission of nonresident microbes, genetic predisposition, lifestyle, and host demographic and environmental characteristics. There is a growing interest to decipher microbial contributions to human health and disease in both healthy skin and cutaneous disorders, such as acnes, rosacea and sensitivity skin.

Limitations of current technologies

Until recently, most of our knowledge of bacteria that reside on skin came from conventional culture-based approaches. However, these approaches have significant limitations, which are due to the fact that only a minority of the bacteria are readily culturable in the laboratory. Moreover, many slow growing organisms from a complex microbial community are overcrowded by bacteria that are better adapted to the in vitro growth conditions applied. Therefore, culture-dependent microbiota analyses lead to underestimation of diversity and artificial skewing of relative abundances of certain bacterial groups. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have allowed comprehensive examination of microbial communities using culture-independent methods. These new molecular approaches enable analysis of genetic material derived from complete microbial communities harvested from their natural environment. A common approach used to identify bacterial populations is based on sequencing of the small subunit bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene. Hypervariable regions within this gene contain species-specific sequences, that when compared to reference databases, allow identification of the bacteria of origin. These methods do not rely upon cultivation of the microorganism, thus eliminating biases associated with culture-based techniques. Although DNA sequencing technologies represents a significant advance in skin microbiome research, there is still much more to be done. One of the major drawbacks for this DNA-based sequencing technologies is the time duration and the cost for skin microbiome sequencing.

Our innovative Skin Decoder

We have optimized a novel proprietary electronic device that can precisely detect skin bacteria in a real time fashion, a superior technical advantage over time consuming and expense bacteria DNA-based sequencing technologies. We have also developed a proprietary computing algorithm to quantitatively categorize various skin conditions. In brief, bacterial strain-specific metabolic end products were isolated and those unique metabolic end products were used as the metabolic substrates for specific bacterial strains. Identification and bioactivity of strain specific bacteria was then characterized with a high accuracy (> 99.99%). Subsequently, our proprietary algorithm would computer the bioactivity ratio of pathogen versus beneficial bacteria for each specific skin condition such as inflammatory acne vulgaris, skin aging, wrinkling, sensitive skin as well as screening for common allergic ingredients of the on-the-market cosmetics. Characterization of causative skin bacteria will be useful for designing precision microbiome approach to rebalance the over-growth of pathological bacteria in the skin microbiome with appropriate pre- and pro-biotic treatment as well as provides an excellent method to evaluate the progress of treatment.

Pre- and pro-biotic products

The skin ecosystem is a complex environment covered with a diverse microbiota community. These are classified as either transient or resident, where some are considered as beneficial, some essentially neutral and others pathogenic or at least have the capacity to be pathogenic. Colonization varies between different parts of the body due to different environmental factors. Pre- and pro-biotic beneficial effects can be delivered topically or systemically (by ingestion). The pre- and pro-biotics have the capacity to optimize, maintain and restore the microbiota of the skin in different ways. Topical applications of pre- and pro-biotics have a direct effect at the site of application by enhancing the skin natural defense barriers. Specifically, pre-biotics can be applied to the skin microbiota directly and increase selectively the activity and growth of beneficial 'normal' skin microbiota while pro-biotics as well as resident bacteria can produce anti-microbial peptides that benefit cutaneous immune responses and eliminate pathogens. We are in the process of screening and testing the effective pre- and pro-biotics for several common skin disorders such as inflammatory acne vulgaris, skin aging, wrinkling and sensitive skin.

The Human Skin Microbiome Bank

The skin harbors diverse bacterial species that may promote or antagonize the growth of an causative pathogen. We are establishing a human skin microbiome repertoire. Establishment of a large skin repertoire of human-associated microorganisms will allow us to test pathogenicity models with viable skin microorganisms. Another important application for our Human Skin Microbiome Bank is anticipated to be a deeper understanding of the microbial components of the human physiology and predisposition to common skin diseases.
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