Virus Could Fend Off Pimples
Forget over-the-counter acne potions and antibiotics. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Los Angeles have just identified a type of virus that can infect and kill the bacterium that causes acne.
In a study published in the September 25 issue of mBio, researchers say the findings could help them develop a cream that contains the virus to more effectively ward off those pesky pimples.
There are many prescription antibiotic treatments on the market for acne, but antibiotic-resistant strains of acne-causing bacterium have emerged, highlighting the need for better therapies, the study authors wrote in a press release.
Researchers used over-the-counter pore-cleaning strips to peel off samples of phages — viruses that attack bacteria — from the noses of both pimply and unblemished study participants.
They found the viruses were genetically similar from patient to patient, sharing more than 85 percent of their DNA. The lack of genetic diversity suggests that resistance to phage-based antimicrobial therapy is less likely to develop, study authors said in a press release.
“We believe that these phages display numerous features that would make them ideal candidates for the development of a phage-based therapy for acne,” the authors wrote.
Graham Hatfull, professor of biotechnology and biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and one of the study authors, said that the enzymes from the phages might also be useful as a topical anti-acne treatment.
“This work has given us very useful information about the diversity of that set of enzymes and helps pave the way for thinking about potential [acne treatment] applications,” he said in the release.