A cure for acne?

Molly Puglese (1 PM Micro) is reading about some of the Gram positive microorganisms that are responsible for numerous skin lesions in adolescents.  She found an article that details some promising results for developing a vaccine against acne.

Acne is a disease that affects people of all age ranges and races from all over the world.  The formation of pimples occurs when the sebaceous glands that produce oils on the skin get blocked.  As oxygen diminishes within the pores, Propionibacterium acnes morphs into a killer organism and destroys the skin cells around it in an attempt to get access to the blood. The immune system reacts by inducing inflammation which results in killer white blood cells to the affected area in an effort to rid of the harmful bacteria.  Unfortunately, there presently isn’t any extremely effective or guaranteed treatment for this condition. Benzoyl peroxide as well as some antibiotics strive to kill P. acnes but this condition has the ability to become chronic and extended antibiotic treatment can spark drug resistance.

One of the main reasons a different form of treatment has not been created yet is because it is difficult to test acne treatments on animals, being that they do not get pimples. However, three years ago it was recognized that injecting live P. acnes into the skin on the ears of mice caused considerable inflammation which represented a pimple. It was then that scientists were able to test the possibility of eliminating acne by introducing proteins from the surface of P. acnes or a whole dead version of the bacteria into the mice via nasal consumption. This test proved to reduce the inflammation of the ear leading researchers to believe that they may have found a treatment for acne by presenting P. acnes antibodies into the body. However, being that this bacteria is part of the normal flora on the surface of the skin, which protects the body from other foreign organisms, it would be damaging to completely eliminate the presence of the bacteria.

Since then, two groups have decided to start taking initiative in finding safe ways of combating P. acnes.  A major vaccine company called Sanofi-Pasteur signed an agreement to collaborate with the University of California, San Diego, in taking an “immunological approach to acne prevention and treatment.” They are currently taking a different avenue in searching for the cure. In research, the group discovered the presence of CAMP in the DNA chain of P. acnes. CAMP is a protein in some bacteria which is associated with the killing of cells once it enters the body. In the case of P. acnes they found that CAMP was made strictly to initiate inflammation and destroy sebaceous gland cells.

With this information, the scientists took the gene and introduced it into radish plants which were able to recreate the protein. They then gathered and mashed the leaves and introduced them into the noses of mice which in turn caused the formation of P. acnes antibodies in these animals. Now the team was able to gather these antibodies and present them to a dish of P. acnes where they showed to successfully prevent the negative effects of the bacteria. This is a milestone discovery in the treatment of acne. It does not harm any of the normal bacteria, or the P. acnes, it will only prevent the production of CAMP. A price has not yet been set yet for this form of treatment, but the team has stated that they hope to soon have it available for local distribution for those individuals suffering from this common condition.

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About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on November 30, 2011, in Guest Post, Wash your hands!. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A cure for acne?.

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