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Viruses For Acne Bacteria: An Unconventional Cure

Acne is a widespread condition that more than half the population will experience, and as such, there are a plethora of treatments and remedies to deal with it. Recent science suggests that there may be viruses that are also capable of killing acne bacteria, ultimately curing acne.

Scientists have discovered that viruses can potentially help cure acne.

Scientific researchers Laura Marinelli, Ph.D. and Robert Modlin, MD, have discovered that a type of virus called Propionibacterium acnes phages has the ability to attack and destroy Propionibacterium acnes. This specific species of acne bacteria is a major cause of acne vulgaris, a skin disease that blocks and inflames sebaceous glands resulting in lesions. But the P. acnesphages attacks this acne-bacteria, injecting the acne bug with the phages’ genetic material to form more and more phages, ultimately infecting the bacteria until it dies.

These UCLA researchers sampled and studied the results of 11 different phages that could effectively kill acne-bacteria and discovered they were all almost genetically the same (about 85% similarity). Part of their tests included sequencing the phages’ DNA, programming it to target and kill specific bacteria. To perform the study, they tested the 11 strands of the virus on the faces of volunteers, using over-the-counter-pore-cleaning strips. The results showed that the viruses not only killed P. acnes but also a broad range of multiple sub-varieties of the bacteria.

This leads the researchers to believe that this virus may become an integral part of future anti-acne treatments and therapies. Its killing mechanism makes it ideal to use since unlike antibiotic acne treatments, it does not harm the beneficial bacteria that live in your body and on your skin.

The next step for the UCLA researchers will be to study the enzyme that the virus produces, called endolysin. This enzyme breaks down bacterial cell walls. Further research will reveal exactly how this enzyme works and hopefully be used to develop future treatments for acne.

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