New Virus May Be Cure For Acne

By Amir Khan on September 25, 2012 12:24 PM EDT

The cure for acne may already be on your skin, according to a new study, published in the journal mBio by the American Society for Microbiology. Researchers found that a common, benign virus that lives on your skin may be a natural and effective cure for acne.

The virus is a kind of bacteriophage, which feeds only on bacteria -- not human cells like most viruses. Researchers found that the bacteriophages seek out the acne-causing bacteria and could be better at controlling them than current medications. They are currently planning lab trial to see if the bacteriophages can be turned into an effective medication.

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"Acne affects millions of people, yet we have few treatments that are both safe and effective," Robert Modlin, study author and researcher from UCLA, told BBC News. "Harnessing a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that causes pimples could offer a promising new tool against the physical and emotional scars of severe acne."

Acne is caused by bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. When hair follicles become blocked, the bacteria contaminate and infect the follicles. The bacteriophages appear to stop this from occurring.

Unlike antibiotics, the bacteriophages only attack the acne-causing bacteria. Researchers said the virus could provide a tailored therapy for people suffering from acne.

"This news is very exciting," Hermione Lawson, with the British Skin Foundation, told BBC News. "Acne is a common condition that affects up to eight in 10 individuals [aged] between 11 and 30 in the UK, and at present there is no 'cure' for the skin disease. We understand how distressing the symptoms of acne can be for its sufferers and welcome any developments that can lead to a cure or at least a better understanding of the disease."

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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