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SMiHA projects Need you!

SMiHA held a small round table event on the 30th November 2022, following the Anti-Ageing Skin Care Conference.


The discussion focused on the question of proof – ‘Proving that influencing skin via the microbiome will improve health with age’.


Three topics were discussed: sampling and biobanking skin microbiota; microbial metabolite-skin cell signalling and lastly models available for wet lab and virtual experiments. Several points emerged which are captured below:


Microbiome research rushed forward with technology (allowing sequencing and identification) but basic questions have not been answered.


There was general agreement that the science base linking maintenance of the skin microbiome directly to healthy ageing was still very weak and although wounds/eczema/acne etc had stronger correlative links, there was a major gap in the data on healthy skin across age/gender/ethnicity/etc that will limit progress towards developing consumer benefits.


In addition, the way all stakeholders refer to the skin microbiome and its interventions is very varied, and we felt could benefit from standardisation and that SMHA could drive this.


While studies have been done in companies, and data is accessible by request, there is a good opportunity and willingness to better understand the volume and value of such data in the UK research community and to integrate it better.


Whilst establishing a donor microbiome biobank was seen as a potentially useful future long-term goal, presently, SMiHA could facilitate establishing a virtual biobank with data and sample sharing agreements.


Simple questions connecting microbiome metabolites to skin cell function are tractable by experimental research and will be very useful to build up the foundations of understanding the role of the skin microbiome in healthy ageing (including skin-gut-brain axes).


Measuring human skin microbiome & metabolite colocalization with relevant metadata is likely to be more useful than microbiome alone and could help challenge the common consensus (or null hypothesis) that microbial diversity is driven by the microbiome environment. However, yet, we do not know what the microbiome-metabolite map looks like or its variability across the body or with age gender etc.


Models such as skin equivalents are not considered good enough yet for translational studies. The human subject as source of material should be the focus. Microsampling could be a key enabler to add to patch and swab sampling.

In order for models of skin-microbiome interactions to be relevant we have to understand first what we are modelling, which at the moment we don’t.


Three suggestions for special interest consortia (SiC) were raised.


SiC 1. To discuss and agree the basis for standardisation in nomenclature and language in describing the skin microbiome and interventions with inputs from science/regulatory/consumer/industry/etc


SiC 2. To establish the location and ownership of skin microbiome collections, methods used and associated data and means for sharing in a Virtual community and also to consider what standards for sampling are available in the wider microbiome/biofilm’s community.


SiC 3. To agree how to prioritise objectives for research in this area, the relevant stakeholders for the outputs of research in health and beauty, and the future of models, modelling, and in vivo sampling.


We would be delighted if attendees would express their interest in joining one or more of these SiCs. Please let us know which one and what you can bring to the activities, and we will formalise these groups early in 2023 email Dr Gill Westgate






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