It’s a skin condition that leaves millions begging for brighter days. It can elicit worry in even the most self-assured. Acne is one of the most undesirable conditions out there today. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most ubiquitous. 85% of the population will have experienced it. It’s like an unfortunate rite of passage; after all, it primarily effects our youth. Those undergoing the hormonal changes of puberty are apt to be more affected. Yet they’re not the only ones, not by a long shot. Even adults may still suffer from severe cases of acne. Even if new pustules don’t develop, scars from the past can constantly degrade confidence.
Medical science is proving its ingenuity once more with an incredible breakthrough. Scientists have been using DNA science to discover better ways to treat acne and skin conditions. Ironically enough, a recent study published in the Los Angeles Times indicates that the source of our new hope against acne comes from what may appear to be the source of the problem in the first place: bacteria.
National Institutes of Health
The study is one part of a push by the National Institutes of Health to map the human microbiome — the trillions of microbes living inside and on our bodies that have been evolving along with humans.
Much of the focus so far has been on the study of the species of bacteria in the gut. The Human Microbiome Project has also been looking at communities of microbes living in the nasal passages, mouth, and the skin.
DNA sequencing has determined that this bacteria is in fact related to the type that we suspect brings about acne. Potentially, this discovery is could lead to the development of treatments that selectively target only the “bad” bacteria that cause acne, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Yet, despite this relation, it’s just different enough to actually cause an opposite effect that will help individuals remove their acne.
The Science Behind it
The specific type of bacterium used is called Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes. As its name implies, this is what we suspect causes acne in the first place. However, DNA sequencing allowed scientists to discover an entirely new strain of the bacterium. The idea may seem strange to some, but the discoverers likened it to a more familiar species, cannis familiaris, or the domesticated dog. Dogs are still called dogs, but there’s a huge difference between a Mastiff and a Chihuahua.
The separate DNA structure actually allows this strain to combat acne in such a way that it neutralizes the bad bacterium. The researchers in charge of the study believe that this research is extremely promising. It’s already helped volunteers rid themselves of their acne. While they were utilizing the P. acnes their skin was clearer than without it. Hopefully down the road, this will be a viable way to treat acne and prevent scarring.