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article imageZit alert: new acne drug in development

By Tim Sandle     Sep 28, 2012 in Science
Scientists think that they will be able to utilize a harmless virus living on our skin to seek out and kill bacteria that causes zits on the surface of the skin.
According to research undertaken at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh, manipulating a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that causes pimples could offer a promising new tool against severe cases of acne.
The viruses are P. acnes phages, a family of viruses that live on human skin. These viruses have been shown to be capable of attacking the bacterium which causes acne: Propionibacterium acnes. The viruses are harmless to humans, but they can be programmed to infect and kill the P. acnes bacteria.
When the P. acnes bacteria aggravate the immune system, it causes the swollen, red bumps associated with acne. Most effective treatments work by reducing the number of P. acnes bacteria on the skin.
Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or "zits." This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and red, inflamed patches of skin (such as cysts). Acne occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin become clogged.
By studying the skin of people with and without acne, the scientists have shown that the viruses can be used for the development of a new anti-acne therapy. A new drug is important because antibiotics, such as tetracycline, have been so widely used that many acne strains have developed resistance.
The research has been published in American Society for Microbiology journal mBio. The reference is:
Laura J. Marinelli Propionibacterium acnes Bacteriophages Display Limited Genetic Diversity and Broad Killing Activity against Bacterial Skin Isolates. mBio, 2012
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