February 28, 2013
TORRANCE, Calif. (The New York Times News Service) -- Local researchers hope they have stumbled onto a safe and highly effective cure for acne, thanks to years of studying why some people get zits and others don't.
The secret may lie in the distribution of acne-causing and acne-preventing types of bacteria living in the deep recesses of our pores.
For the past four years, researchers from UCLA, LA BioMed near Torrance and Washington University have meticulously mapped microbial DNA strands extracted from the pores of 49 acne sufferers and 52 people with clear skin.
Their results were published Thursday in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
"We found several strains that were almost exclusively found in acne patients," Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute researcher Noah Craft said. "We think that those strains are causing acne. Then we found another strain primarily found in healthy people."
Dermatologists have long known that Propionibacterium acne, or P. acne, bacteria cause acne. But this is the first time a bacterium has been found that might actually prevent acne, Craft said.
"We learned that not all acne bacteria trigger pimples -- one strain may help keep skin healthy," said Huiying Li, the lead author and assistant professor at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "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."
Current acne treatments concentrate on killing all the bacteria on the skin. Craft said the new research shows that it may be more important to introduce good types of bacteria to the face while also killing the bad.
The research institutions have patented several purified strains of the bacteria found most commonly on the skin of people without acne. They are working with companies to potentially develop a probiotic cream that could be sold over-the-counter within three years, if it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Craft said.
"It's a really groundbreaking, monumental piece of work," Craft said. "The ultimate thing would be if you used that healthy strain (of bacteria) as a probiotic cream."
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