Not that long ago, physicians believed that healthy sinuses were sterile environments. Scientific advances have since revealed that the sinuses, like other parts of the body, are home to vast numbers of microbes. These microbes live in distinct communities, called microbiomes, which may be the key to understanding and developing effective treatments for chronic rhinosinusitis and other ailments.
Explore this issue:March 2019
“We have some evidence that the population of the microbiome does contribute to disease and inflammation within the nose and sinuses,” said Eugene Chang, MD, vice chair of the department of otolaryngology and director of rhinology and skull base surgery at the University of Arizona in Tucson. However, Dr. Chang and others say it will probably be years before microbiome research alters treatment paradigms.
“We’re still a long way from knowing if we can manipulate the microbiome and if it truly presents opportunity as a new therapy,” said Vijay Ramakrishnan, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Colorado in Denver. “There’s a phenomenon that happens whenever new major discoveries happen in science and new tools are available to researchers. Take genomics, for instance. Everyone gets excited. We thought genes were going to be the answer to everything.”