Virus that lives on skin could be a cure for acne

8:42 PM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A new breakthrough treatment for acne may already be living on your skin.

Scientists have pinpointed a virus that naturally seeks out and kills pimple-causing bacteria.

It's of interest to Andrea Anderson of Albertville, mother of four.  While no one else in her family has acne yet, she has had it since middle school and has been fighting it several ways.

She said she has taken, "Several different prescriptions over the course of about 20 years."

Currently she is using an antibiotic cream and a retinoid.  She said, "They're not without side effects you know the topical retinoid that goes on at night can be very drying." 

So she's excited to hear that now a more effective, natural cure could be on the horizon and it comes from something already sitting on the surface of our skin.

In the new study, published in the journal mBio, scientists from UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh have found harmless viruses that live on our skin, called phages, that can attack and kill the bacteria that help cause acne, and those phages studied are all genetically similar, making it easier to pinpoint how they kill acne bacteria and develop a treatment.

Scientists hope to use this research to develop a topical cream to fight acne, one to which the body would not develop immune resistance like it can with antibiotics.

Dermatologist Dr. Phil Ecker of Minnesota Dermatology said the study holds great promise.  

He said, "I think it's very interesting I haven't really thought of treating acne in this way before so it's exciting when someone comes out with new ideas like this."

But it could be some time before a new treatment is available.  Ecker said, "With the FDA approval process and everything it could be ten to 15 years."

So for those fighting acne now, he said, "The first place to start is with the typically with the benzoperoxide or the salicylic acid over the counter." 

If those don't work, he said see a dermatologist like Anderson does.  

While this research may not help her right now, she said she would be happy if a new more natural treatment becomes available, perhaps in time to help her kids.

She said, "The more options the better, the better it will be."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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