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Discovery could mean an end to pimples and severe acne

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New discovery could mean an end to acne.

UCLA researchers have discovered not all acne causing bacteria lead to zits. The finding could mean an end to those embarrassing inflamed spots that plague almost everyone at some point during a lifetime; especially teenagers. The finding is especially important for anyone suffering from severe forms of acne vulgaris.

Protective acne bacteria uncovered

The researchers discovered some bacteria associated with acne actually protects the skin and can prevent blemishes.

Principal investigator Huiying Li, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said in a press release, "We hope to apply our findings to develop new strategies that stop blemishes before they start, and enable dermatologists to customize treatment to each patient's unique cocktail of skin bacteria."

The study, published in the Feb. 28 edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology could also mean the end of acne that can cause scarring and disfigurement for people with severe cases.

The researchers looked at the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes that live deep in the skin’s pores to cause inflammation and skin blemishes by aggravating the immune system closely by isolating it from the noses of people with and without acne.

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Cultures of the bacteria were obtained from pore cleansing strips that can be purchased over the counter. Li’ team cultured more than 1000 strains of P. acnes. Next, the researchers studied the DNA of 66 strains of pimple causing bacteria, finding distinct differences between strains taken from healthy skin and those from people with acne.

Study co-author Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist and director of the Center for Immunotherapeutics Research at LA BioMed at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center said, "Two unique strains of P. acnes appeared in one out of five volunteers with acne but rarely occurred in clear-skinned people."

The biggest discovery came when researchers identified a health strain of P. acnes that protects the skin from breakouts but absent in healthy skin. Li said it’s possible the strain acts as an acne defense mechanism.

The finding means new lotions and creams to increase the amount of healthy skin bacteria to prevent pimples in the same way probiotics increase healthy gut bacteria.

The researchers also hope to develop a simple test that can determine who will develop aggressive acne in the future. Treatment for acne is limited to antibiotics that are often ineffective. The finding may mean an end to pimples and zits and is especially important because it may mean a real cure for the most severe forms of disfiguring acne.

February 28,2013

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