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Anti-acne bacteria actually keep skin clear

WASHINGTON U. – ST. LOUIS (US) — Scientists have discovered there are “bad” strains of acne bacteria associated with pimples and “good” strains that may protect the skin.

Acne-causing bacteria live on everyone’s skin, yet one in five people only gets an occasional pimple over a lifetime.

The findings, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, could lead to new therapies to prevent and treat the disfiguring skin disorder.

“We learned that not all acne bacteria trigger pimples—one strain may help keep skin healthy,” says lead author Huiying Li, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles.

“We hope to apply our findings to develop new strategies that stop blemishes before they start and enable dermatologists to customize treatment to each patient’s unique cocktail of skin bacteria.”

The scientists looked at the tiny microbe Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria that thrives in the oily depths of our pores. When the bacteria aggravate the immune system, they cause the swollen, red bumps associated with acne.

Using over-the-counter pore-cleansing strips, researchers from Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and UCLA lifted P. acnes bacteria from the noses of 49 pimply and 52 clear-skinned volunteers.

After extracting the microbial DNA from the strips, the scientists tracked a genetic marker to identify the bacterial strains in each volunteer’s pores and recorded whether the person suffered from acne.

Washington University scientists sequenced the genomes of 66 of the P. acnes strains, enabling the team to zero in on genes unique to each strain.

“Our research underscores the importance of strain-level analysis of the world of human microbes to define the role of bacteria in health and disease,” says co-author George Weinstock, associate director of The Genome Institute and professor of genetics at Washington University in St. Louis.

“This type of analysis has a much higher resolution than prior studies that relied on bacterial cultures or only made distinctions between bacterial species.”

The researchers wanted to learn whether the bacterial strains looked notably different when they were taken from diseased skin, compared with healthy skin.

“Two unique strains of P. acnes appeared in one out of five volunteers with acne but rarely occurred in clear-skinned people,” says co-author Noah Craft, a dermatologist and director of the Center for Immunotherapeutics Research at LA BioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The biggest discovery was still to come.

Anti-acne bacteria

“We were extremely excited to uncover a third strain of P. acnes that’s common in healthy skin yet rarely found when acne is present,” says Li. “We suspect that this strain contains a natural defense mechanism that enables it to recognize attackers and destroy them before they infect the bacterial cell.”

Offering new hope to acne sufferers, the researchers believe that increasing the body’s friendly strain of P. acnes through the use of a simple cream or lotion may help calm spotty complexions.

“This P. acnes strain may protect the skin, much like yogurt’s live bacteria help defend the gut from harmful bugs,” Li says. “Our next step will be to investigate whether a probiotic cream can block bad bacteria from invading the skin and prevent pimples before they start.”

Additional studies will focus on exploring new drugs that kill bad strains of P. acnes while preserving the good ones; the use of viruses to kill acne-related bacteria; and a simple skin test to predict whether a person will develop aggressive acne in the future.

Acne affects 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, yet scientists know little about what causes the disorder and have made limited progress in developing new strategies for treating it.

Dermatologists’ arsenal of anti-acne tools—benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and Accutane (isotretinoin)—hasn’t expanded in decades. Most severe cases of acne don’t respond to antibiotics, and Accutane can produce serious side effects.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases supported the research.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

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7 Comments

  1. Skin Care

    Hand-washing is an easy manner to prevent from infection. Since you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, accumulate you germinate on your hands. The same time you touch your face, the batteries and germs become able to reach your face’s skin and to make skin infections and acne. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands sterile, washing your hands can frequently help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.

  2. Louqman

    Severe acne in any form needs medical attention. If acne is in mild form and at the initial stage, acne can be treated successfully by natural herbs and by following Nature’s way in our daily routine. Following below is a list of natural healing ingredients that are most beneficial in the battle against blemishes and for the proper healing of your acne.

    Natural Oil Absorbing…. You might be well aware of the fact that secretion of excess oil is a vital contributor to conditions of acne on your skin. There are many natural herbs like Konjac Root (also known as a dietary fiber) and things like Charcoal (derived from burned wood and containing mainly carbon) that have oil-absorbing features.

  3. Maria Jones

    Although everyone wanted to get rid of acne and willing to adopt any treatment for it however, people are also eager to get results fast. For this reason they jump from one treatment to other quickly and get disappointed really fast. This way people not only destroy their treatment but acne also persists for longer duration. During any treatment of acne it is important to consistent and patient to get your desired results

  4. Kimberly

    I really hope that scientists will find soon natural solution to activate these good P. acne bacterias for fighting against bad bacterias. I don’t understand why for so many years scientists still know a little about acne causes and have made a limited progress in developing new strategies for treating it? It’s a very big problem. Maybe everything is again because of financing? Personally for me it’s very important that these will be natural methods without side effects on our health. Thanks!

  5. Lucy M.

    Acne-causing bacteria is always being researched today. There are so many different strands of bacteria that can lead to acne, but at the same time, there are so many that can help eradicate acne from your skin. If anybody is looking for a site that delves into acne bacteria, its behaviors, consequences and remedies, definitely check out this acne site: http://theclearskinproject.com/questions/what-bacteria-causes-acne.

  6. Debbie C.

    Do any of the probiotics that are on shelves now have the ‘good’ p.acne bacteria in them? My son, age 14, is struggling with acne. Thank you.

  7. Sybil

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude!
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    I don’t understand why I am unable to subscribe to it.
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