Got zits? Potential new weapon against acne discovered

Acne on the forehead of a 14-year-old boy.
Acne on the forehead of a 14-year-old boy.
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With the help of a popular beauty product, scientists may have discovered a potential treatment for acne, the often physically and emotionally scarring skin condition that afflicts millions of young people and adults.

Using those sticky “pore strips” designed to pull clogging dirt and oil from facial pores, researchers from UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh discovered that a naturally occurring, harmless virus that lives on human skin may prove to be an effective weapon against bacteria-caused acne.

After studying pore strips from volunteers, the scientists discovered stuck to them the P. acnes phages virus, which they found has the ability to naturally seek out and kill the acne-causing bacterium, called Propionibacterium acnes.

And that, researchers say, makes them an ideal candidate for possible viral-based acne treatments.

“Acne affects millions of people, yet we have few treatments that are both safe and effective,” principal investigator Dr. Robert Modlin, chief of dermatology and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a press release. “Harnessing a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that causes pimples could offer a promising new tool against the physical and emotional scars of severe acne.”

(You can read the research paper below.)

A majority of Americans suffer some degree of acne at some point in their lives, but because scientists know little about what causes the disorder there exist few effective and safe treatments for the often-disfiguring skin condition.

The study, which was supported by grants from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Sept. 25 online edition of of the American Society for Microbiology’s mBio.

Acne Proof final