Discovery May Lead to More Effective Acne Treatments
Scientists have long known that the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) plays a leading role in the development of acne vulgaris, the scourge afflicting some 80% of teenagers and many adults as well. A normally harmless microbe that lives in the hair follicles of every person, P. acnes helps cause acne when the follicles become plugged with sebum, a natural oil produced by the body.
Scientists Discover Genetic Make-up of Acne Bacterium
Recently a team of German scientists, led by microbiologist Dr. Holger Brueggemann, mapped the genetic code of the P. acnes microbe. They discovered that it has a circular chromosome with 2,333 genes, many of which had surprising destructive abilities. "We were astonished to see how many genes were involved in degrading the human tissue," said Dr. Brueggemann.
For example, the researchers found that P. acnes contains enzymes similar to those in so-called "flesh-eating" bacteria that destroy human tissue. It also has enzymes that break down the skin and use it as its food supply.