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Acne affects eight out of ten people between the ages of 11 and 30 and there is currently now cure for this emotionally and physically scarring condition, however new research has revealed the possibility of a new therapy using 'harmless' viruses.
Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Pittburgh have identified 11 versions of the phage virus family that can be effective at targeting the bacteria responsible for causing acne, Propionibacterium acnes. They now intend on harnessing this ability of phage to target acne bacteria and to develop some sort of therapy that will effectively help remove acne from the skin. Although there are many acne treatments available, they aren’t always safe for everyone to use.
Phage viruses all share genetic similarities that cause them to produce a protein called endolysin. Endolysin is what gives phages their ability to attack bacteria and affect their cell walls, which is similar to what antibiotics do. However, wherease antibiotics kill all kinds of bacteria, phage viruses are able to provide more targeted treatment, therefore not destroying ‘good’ bacteria.
Hermione Lawson from the British Skin Foundation, commenting on the new research, told the BBC that: "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."
The study was published in the journal of the American Society for Micriobiology, mBio.