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
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.
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