Human nose home to five types of bacteria

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Researchers from the University of Antwerp have concluded that the organisms in our noses can be divided into five different types. Prof. Sarah Lebeer (UAntwerp) says: “This new knowledge will eventually contribute to the prevention of respiratory infections.”

Last year, one hundred healthy adult volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 donated a ‘nose sample’ to scientists from the ENdEMIC (Environmental Ecology & Microbiology) research group in the Department of Bioscience Engineering (University of Antwerp). PhD students Ilke De Boeck and Stijn Wittouck then began analysing the samples, under the supervision of professors Sarah Lebeer (UAntwerp) and Olivier Vanderveken (ENT doctor, UAntwerp and UZA).

“The analyses show that the samples can be divided into five different types of nose bacteria”, the researchers explain. “These are the Moraxella type, the Streptococcus type, the Haemophilus type, the Fusobacterium type and, finally, the hybrid type, which combines Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium and Dolosigranulum. Each type is named after the bacteria that occurs most frequently in it. Because we only studied healthy volunteers, these types are representative of ‘healthy’ nose flora.”

The study provides the scientists with a solid basis for looking into the role that specific bacteria play in infections of the upper respiratory tract and in the ear, nose and throat cavities. Lebeer and Vanderveken: “In the longer term, we hope to develop additional targeted therapies to combat these infections.”