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Designer armpit microbiome

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 30, 2020
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We've posted a few ideas with a similar general concept. This one is about changing your armpit microbiome. You would kill off all bad-odor producing microorganisms and inoculate the area with microbial species that produce no noticeable smell.

Designer-fragrance producing bacteria

If we take this one step further, the armpits could be inoculated with genetically engineered bacteria that produce pleasant fragrances. A person could effectively order designer microbes to replace the use of perfumes and deodorants. By doing some mix/matching one could design their own, person-specific, pleasant fragrance.

DIY armpit therapy

Until designer-fragrance-producing organisms become available, this idea could be put to use in a do-it-yourself setting:
  1. Kill off your armpit bacteria by applying a few days (weeks?) long therapy comprised of several different agents: a strong antiseptic, MRSA decolonizing mouthwash, a few hours later followed by an antibiotic cream, a few hours later followed by an antifungal cream, a few hours later followed by a cream based on Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) - you get the picture, the therapy would be spaced out and use different over the counter agents that would cumulatively prevent resistance-building in the existing armpit microbiome.
  2. Find a donor who never smells bad. Even if they don't take showers in between work-outs. Have them wear a sterile cotton-based pad under their armpit for a few hours to inoculate it with their armpit microbiome.
  3. Wear the inoculated pad overnight to seed the "good" bacteria under your own armpit.
  4. Keep repeating for a few weeks.
Voila. A brand new armpit microbiome:)

Experimental treatment for Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) also known as acne inversa is a nasty and so far incurable disease. The cause remains unknown, and experts disagree over proposed causes.

It would be interesting to see how a microbiome change would affect an individual with HS. It would be even better if before the treatment the existing microbial species were examined. Matching bacteriophage viruses could be found that specifically target the existing bacterial species. Those bacteriophages could be included in the eradication treatment.




[4]Medline Plus (2012). "Hidradenitis suppurativa". U.S. National Library of Medicine. Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.

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General comments

Jamila 3 years ago
Great idea.

There should be a comprehensive list/website that tells you which factors contribute to a "normal" smell and "bad" smells. For example, if a particular food is a significant driver of bad smell. Then people could use this information to change their dietary habits and see if that helps.

As people have already mentioned, various factors can affect the microbiome. So, the armpit microbiome transplant might not work continuously. However, for some people, even having temporary relief is better than smelling bad all the time. So, they might be up for regular armpit microbiome transplants.

In my opinion, it would be interesting to see how long a transplanted microbiome actually lasts!

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
Jamila Right. The cost of the treatment along with the required frequency should be lesser than that of the prebiotic deodorant. Although we can identify foods that lead to sweat odor (like garlic, onion, meat, etc.), eliminating it from the diet can not be an option for many. However, as you pointed out, the temporary elimination of such foods does have significant effects on the odor. So, I think replacing the armpit microbiome may not be a permanent solution and may require regular sessions.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
A prebiotic (nutrients that foster the growth of good bacteria that are already part of your body) can be useful here. Not all bacteria and killing all bacteria on the skin may do more harm than good. Prebiotic components like xylitol help support the good bacteria and remove the bad. A prebiotic deodorant is also available that can maintain a healthy microbial composition on the skin.
Reference: https://www.tomsofmaine.com/good-matters/natural-products/all-about-armpit-bacteria-and-using-prebiotics-und#:~:text=It%20might%20seem%20unpleasant%20to,bacteria%20living%20in%20your%20armpits.&text=Specific%20armpit%20bacteria%2C%20like%20Corynebacteria,the%20FEMS%20Microbiology%20Ecology%20study.
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Nitish3 years ago
Our microflora is basically of two types; transient and resident. The axilla (armpits), skin, nose, mouth, throat, large intestine, vagina, and hair follicles etc contains the myriad types of resident microbes. These microbes are generally well adapted for controlling such environments. They compete with transient microbes especially pathogens for food and shelter and eventually restrict the invading microbes from colonising their environ. So if we want to change the microbiome of the axilla or other parts, we firstly need to adapt the engineered/ donated microbes according to the host resident microflora. And, this we will have to do repeatedly to avoid any backshift in microbial composition. In addition to this, there are many other restrictions are also. Therefore, more or less this idea seems to be promising but also time-consuming with low probabilities of the permanent solution.
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
The idea is really good, just the process of "inoculation" doesn't seem very appealing:D Also, does seeding a new bacterial microbiome guarantees you won't catch other types of bacteria on top of that? I suppose there are deeper reasons why some people have a better-smelling microbiome than others - it might be because of their diet, genetics, metabolism, etc. So the new microbiome may not be a fit for that person even if you tried to implant it there. And worse smell producing bacteria might be just the fit, so they'd find their way there sooner or later.
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