Now, a Virus to Treat Acne

The latest edition of mBio, an online journal belonging to the American Society for Microbiology carries an article that discloses a viral remedy for treating acne.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburg and University of California, Los Angeles have collaborated and provided insights into this novel method of drug development.

A brief insight into acne

Now-a-Virus-to-Treat-AcneAcne is a skin condition that affects many people around the world. It can vary from mild to moderate; and severe scars the effects of which range from physical to emotional distress among the sufferers.

Dermatologists worldwide use many medications that include antibiotics, steroids and even topical treatments to help the patients. But these remedies are often short lived and come with their set of side-effects.

The bacterium – Propionibacterium acnes is the main cause of most acne in the humans and they thrive in our facial skin pores. These trigger acne. There is a family of viruses that live on the human skin called the phages of P. acnes.

This virus grows within the bacteria and ultimately destroys it, like any parasite. Hormonal imbalances, oil in the skin and our immune system play a main role in triggering the activity of P. acnes, and thus acne.

Study on propionibacteria and the viruses

In this scenario, scientists at the UCLA have come out with a novel method of treating acne – viruses that feed on bacteria. Dr. Robert Modlin, the lead investigator of this research has
revealed that the research is all about harnessing the potential of a virus that feeds on the bacteria that cause pimples on our skin.

For the study, the scientists picked up the P. acnes and their phages (virus that kill the bacteria) using a pore cleansing strip available at the local drug store. This procedure was performed on both acne patients as well as normal control group without pimples.

They then studied the sequence of these phage genomes and found that they are small and less variable and hence ideal for developing a new therapy for acne.

These phages are very specific to the P. acnes and hence will attack only those bacteria and not others. What is more, they are the normal micro flora of our skin. Hence they are ideal anti-acne treatments.

Development of the therapeutic

The research team is now aiming at isolating the active ingredient (protein) from the virus and is testing its efficacy as compared to the entire virus killing the bacteria.

Clinical trials will then follow and once the scientists determine the efficacy and safety of the viral protein, they will be used as effective tools in combating acne.


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