In a recent study, scientists suggested that a virus which exists naturally on human skin seeks and destroys the bacteria causing ‘Zits or acne’.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburg and UCLA conducted the study. Dr. Robert Modin, a researcher and chief of dermatology and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said that using a virus which naturally attacks and destroys the bacteria causing pimples could be useful to overcome the physical and mental scars caused by severe acne.
The two microbes studied were propionibacterium acnes which grow in our pores and activate acne and propionibacterium acnes phages which a harmless virus living on our skin which can infect and destroy the P.ance bacterium. Acne is formed when the immune system is irritated by P.acne bacteria causing red and swollen bumps.
The team sampled acne bacteria and P.acne viruses from noses of participants who had pimply or clear skin by using pore-cleansing strips available over-the-counter.The researchers patterned the bacteriophages genomes and learned that the viruses may have characteristics like limited diversity, small size and ability to destroy their hosts. These attributes made the viruses a perfect option to create a new treatment to fight acne.
The author of the study, Graham Hatfull said that lack of genetic diversity amongst phages which attack the acne bacterium implies that viral-based strategies could help in controlling this skin disorder. He said that since phages are designed to seek and destroy certain bacteria, P. acne phages will only target P.acne bacteria and not other bacteria.
This proved its ability to treat pimples effectively. Current treatments only aim at decreasing the number of these bacteria on the skin.
Dr. Jenny Kim, co-author and director of UCLA Clinic for acne Rosacea and Aesthetics said that antibiotics like tetracycline are used widely which has caused acne strains to develop resistance. Drugs like Accutane are effective, but have side effects thereby limiting their use. Dr. Jenny added, that since acne can disfigure people and undermine their self-esteem, it is required to identify new and better ways to safely treat the common disorder.