Acne, Propionibacterium acnes, is a very common our skin ailment that affects vast sums of people each year. It is also the bane of teenagers, causing insecurity and disrupting dating life for many. But there may be new expect pimple poppers everywhere. A new study suggests viruses might be used to help treat acne problems, and effectively kill acne-causing bacteria.

By utilizing a harmless virus that lives on the skin, scientists express it may potentially pave the way for a breakthrough in viral products that treat the condition that is most commonly associated with adolescence.

Researchers, led by Dr. Graham Hatfull, of the University of Pittsburgh, have identified, isolated and studied the genomes of 11 viruses (phage) that can infect the acne-causing bacteria and destroy it. Hatfull and colleagues, including those from UCLA, plan to study these viruses further and see whether they can harness them as a therapy for skin treatment.

“Acne affects millions of people, yet we have few treatments that are both safe and effective,” said principal investigator Dr. Robert Modlin, chief of dermatology and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “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 very severe acne.”

“There’s two fairly obvious potential directions that could exploit this sort of research,” said Hatfull. “The first is the potential of using the phages directly as a therapy for acne. The second reason is the opportunity to use phage-derived components for their activities.”

P. acnes is really a typical bacteria available on human skin, however it spreads widely during puberty, drawing out an inflammatory response that may lead to pimples. However, there work well treatments already on the market for the treatment of the usually embarrassing condition, antibiotic-resistant strains of P. acnes emerged, highlighting the requirement of new and improved treatments.

To find an improved therapy, Pittsburgh and UCLA researchers enlisted volunteers with and without acne, isolated the phages and acnes bacteria from them, and then sequenced the genomes from the viruses. Surprisingly, the 11 phages discovered were remarkably similar, sharing a lot more than 85 percent of their DNA, an uncommon level of similarity among viruses. The possible lack of genetic diversity shows that resistance to viral therapies could be less likely to happen, the researchers said.

“Our findings provide valuable insights into acne and also the bacterium that causes it,” noted Hatfull, who’s Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology at Pitt´s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). “The possible lack of genetic diversity one of the phages that attack the acne bacterium signifies that viral-based strategies may help control this distressing skin disorder.”

Acne affects nearly 90 percent of american citizens at some stage in their lives, typically during adolescence, when hormones from puberty are on the rise. Yet scientists know little else by what truly causes the disorder and have only made limited progress in developing new therapies to fight the condition.

The most typical, and many effective tools for fighting acnebenzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and Accutanehave been around for decades and have not been vastly enhanced.

“Antibiotics such as tetracycline are so popular that many acne strains allow us resistance, and medicines like Accutane, while effective, can establish risky negative effects, limiting their use,” explained study coauthor Dr. Jenny Kim, director from the UCLA Clinic for Acne, Rosacea and Aesthetics. “Acne can dramatically disfigure people and undermine their self-esteem, especially in teens. We are able to change patients’ lives with treatment. It’s time we identified a new way to securely treat the common disorder.”

The researchers noted that of the phages identified have a gene which makes the protein endolysin, an enzyme that’s thought to break down bacterial cell walls and get rid of the bacteria.

Hatfull said enzymes such as this one are used in other applications, which suggests that endolysin from all of these phages could also be useful as a topical anti-acne treatment. “The work has given us very useful information about the variety of that group of enzymes helping pave the way for considering potential applications,” he noted.

Future research will explore how these phages may be used therapeutically, but additionally how they can be used to manipulate the bacteria they infect, said Hatfull.

“What is the news is very exciting. Acne breakouts are a typical condition that affects up to eight in 10 individuals [aged] between 11 and 30 in the united kingdom, and at present there isn’t any ‘cure’ for the skin disease,” Hermione Lawson, of the British Skin Foundation, told BBC News. “We understand how distressing the signs and symptoms of acne can be because of its sufferers and welcome any developments that may result in a cure or at least a much better understanding of the condition.”

The study is published today in the American Society for Microbiology´s journal mBio.

The study was based on grants from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.