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Genetics

27 June 2020

Your genes may affect how you'll heal if wounded

New research suggests that genetic variation influences the types of bacteria that infect wounds as well as the healing process.

  • Our genes influence the bacteria found in wounds 
  • This influences the rate at which wounds heal
  • Such knowledge can help medical professionals predict the course of wound healing 

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Your genes may have a big impact on bacteria in your wounds and how quickly you heal, new research shows.

The researchers said their findings could help improve wound treatment.

Chronic wounds – ones that don't show signs of healing within three weeks – can be costly, and bacterial infection slows the process.

A range of bacterial species are present in chronic wounds, but it's not clear why certain ones are found in some wound infections and not others.

Variants in people's genomes

In order to learn more, the researchers investigated the link between genes and bacteria diversity in chronic wounds.

They linked variations in two key genes – TLN2 and ZNF521 – to both the number of bacteria in wounds and the abundance of harmful ones, primarily Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

Pseudomonas-infected wounds had fewer species of bacteria – and wounds with fewer species were slower to heal, the investigators found.

The results suggest that genetic variation influences the types of bacteria that infect wounds as well as the healing process.

The study by Caleb Phillips, an assistant professor of biology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and colleagues was published online on 18 June 18 in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

The authors described their study as the first to identify how genes influence wound bacteria and healing.

"This study demonstrates the ability to find variants in people's genomes that explain differences in the microorganisms that infect their wounds. Such information is expected to guide new understanding about the mechanisms of infection and healing, and the establishment of predictive biomarkers that improve patient care," the authors said in a journal news release.

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