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Acne And The Scientific Ingenuity Of Nitric Oxide

For people with acne, there is always a newer and trendier treatment or breakthrough method1. With novelty comes skepticism. For chronic acne suffers, there is a certain weariness that comes from hearing people sing the praises of new treatments. As they have seen many new treatments come and go, and many fail to deliver.

If you can put your skepticism aside momentarily then it is easy to see the potential of Nitric Oxide2. In fact, using nitric oxide to harness your bodies own anti-inflammatory appears to be something of a paradigm shift in combating acne.

Nanotechnology Research for Acne
Will nanotechnology be the key for future acne treatments?

What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is an invaluable molecule produced naturally in the human body. It’s used in a plethora of physiological and pathological processes. Among its many other uses, nitric oxide serves as an anti-inflammatory3. Unfortunately the nitric oxide reacts so quickly with its surroundings that it is only active in this state for a very short time… not nearly long enough to be an effective combatant to acne.

Nanotechnology Paving The Way

Scientists have long wondered about the potential health benefits of slowing down the release nitric oxide4. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in nanotechnology development. This overwhelmingly quick progress in nanotechnology fields has left scientists with many new options in harnessing some of the body’s natural treatments5.

The scientists working on this project view it as a different approach to tackling acne6. It goes without saying that acne is an utterly ubiquitous dermatological problem, affecting a huge percentage of the population. In the past, the attitude of “whatever works” seem to reign supreme. Times have changed, though.

In general, consumers have become more skeptical of products that seem to stray too far into the unnatural. Consumers also seem to be averse to the over application of otherwise useful products. People looking in treating acne have become especially hesitant to heighten their immunity to antibiotics. This has resulted in a decrease in popularity in antibiotic treatments. Using a molecule found so systematically in the body has a broad appeal to a consumer base that is more in more wary of what goes in their body, or for that matter, on their face.

Nitric oxide’s healing power has been long appreciated by scientists7. In fact, the use of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system culminated in a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for Dr. Robert Furchgott, Dr. Louis J. Ignore and Dr. Ferid Murad in 1998.

For a long time, the primary problem was that drug developers could not distribute it in the correct amount in the right place. Researchers eventually solved these problems by storing the nitric oxide as an engineered molecule. This allows for a controlled release and now there is a race to perfect Nitric Oxide as a topical cream8.

Novan Therapeutics is now nearing the final stages of testing their cream before bringing it to the marketplace. The nitric oxide topical cream works by attacking the cause of inflammation9. It kills the bacterium that serves as the catalyst for acne. Nitric oxide constrains the pathways that go into the formation of a pimple. Science lovers should rejoice. Through scientific ingenuity, we are now on the path to stopping pimples from forming at the earliest levels without the use of antibiotics10.

We definitely foresee a rising interest in nitric oxide acne treatments. One of the most common questions we get is “Does Proactiv really work???” but we suspect that more people will start turning away from such overly commercialized products and turn to more forward thinking science based treatments.


  1. Trivedi MK, Bosanac SS, Sivamani RK, Larsen LN. Emerging Therapies for Acne Vulgaris. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2018 Aug;19(4):505-516. doi: 10.1007/s40257-018-0345-x.
  2. Graham DB, Jasso GJ, Mok A, Goel G, Ng ACY, Kolde R, Varma M, Doench JG, Root DE3, Clish CB, Carr SA, Xavier RJ.
  3. Nitric Oxide Engages an Anti-inflammatory Feedback Loop Mediated by Peroxiredoxin 5 in Phagocytes. Cell Rep. 2018 Jul 24;24(4):838-850.
  4. Qin M, Landriscina A, Rosen JM, Wei G, Kao S, Olcott W, Agak GW, Paz KB, Bonventre J, Clendaniel A, Harper S, Adler BL, Krausz AE, Friedman JM, Nosanchuk JD, Kim J, Friedman AJ. Nitric Oxide-Releasing Nanoparticles Prevent Propionibacterium acnes-Induced Inflammation by Both Clearing the Organism and Inhibiting Microbial Stimulation of the Innate Immune Response. J Invest Dermatol. 2015 Nov;135(11):2723-2731.
  5. Wallace JL. Nitric oxide as a regulator of inflammatory processes. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2005 Mar;100 Suppl 1:5-9. Epub 2005 Jun 14.
  6. Baldwin H, Blanco D, McKeever C, Paz N, Vasquez YN, Quiring J, Enloe C, De León E, Stasko N. Results of a Phase 2 Efficacy and Safety Study with SB204, an Investigational Topical Nitric Oxide-releasing Drug for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016 Aug;9(8):12-8.
  7. Del Rosso JQ, Kircik LH. Spotlight on the Use of Nitric Oxide in Dermatology: What Is It? What Does It Do? Can It Become an Important Addition to the Therapeutic Armamentarium for Skin Disease? J Drugs Dermatol. 2017 Jan 1;16(1):s4-s10.
  8. Adler BL, Friedman AJ. Nitric oxide therapy for dermatologic disease. Future Sci OA. 2015 Aug 1;1(1):FSO37.
  9. Hyun E, Bolla M, Steinhoff M, Wallace JL, Soldato PD, Vergnolle N. Anti-inflammatory effects of nitric oxide-releasing hydrocortisone NCX 1022, in a murine model of contact dermatitis. Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Nov;143(5):618-25.
  10. Neidrauer M1, Ercan UK, Bhattacharyya A, Samuels J, Sedlak J, Trikha R, Barbee KA, Weingarten MS, Joshi SG. Antimicrobial efficacy and wound-healing property of a topical ointment containing nitric-oxide-loaded zeolites. J Med Microbiol. 2014 Feb;63(Pt 2):203-9.
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