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Entries in Zits (2)

Tuesday
Sep252012

Virus Could Be New Weapon Against Zits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It might be possible some day to apply a cream that contains a virus that kills acne-causing bacteria to ward off zits, a new study suggests.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal mBio, analyzed the genomes of viruses that attack the skin bacteria linked to acne problems from 11 volunteers.

Using over-the-counter pore cleaning strips, the researchers peeled off samples of phages -- viruses that attack bacteria -- from the noses of pimply and unblemished individuals.

The researchers were astounded to find that these viruses were remarkably similar genetically from patient to patient, said corresponding author Graham Hatfull, professor of biotechnology and biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.  The fact that there was so little difference between these viruses from nose to nose suggests that their bacterial prey -- in this case, the bacteria that lead to acne -- are ill-equipped to defend themselves.

These findings "indicate the possibility of using these phages as a targeted approach to acne treatment," the study authors wrote.

Acne is the most common skin problem across the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology's website.  Acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans at any given time, and can lead to disfigurement and problems with self-esteem.

The increase in antibiotic-resistant strains of the skin bacteria linked to acne highlights the need for new and better acne treatments, the study authors wrote.

Dr. Doris Day, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center and author of 100 Questions and Answers About Acne, explained how the common skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes -- P. acnes for short -- helps pimples develop.

"You have a follicle, which is a pore," said Day, who was not involved with the study.  "For [some] reason, the skin cells that line it don't slough off as they're supposed to.  Once the opening gets blocked, then the oil and skin cells behind it start to build up. That's your whitehead."

Day explained that when the opening to the pore is clogged, there is little to no oxygen -- the perfect environment for bacteria like P. acnes to thrive.

"Everything it likes to eat is right there," she said.

The hope, Day said, is that dermatologists will be able to tailor treatments to attack and destroy P. acnes in a way that is currently not possible -- a viral smart bomb, if you will, against acne germs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

More Research Needed for Acne Treatments, Says Study

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NOTTINGHAM, England) -- Most of us have been there -- scrubbing, cleansing, moisturizing and zapping -- desperate to get rid of those pimples that tormented the teenage (and maybe adult) years.  But now a new study published in the Lancet finds that common acne-fighting products lack proper research in documenting their effectiveness.

"The large number of products and product combinations, and the scarcity of comparative studies, has led to disparate guidelines with few recommendations being evidence-based," lead author Hywel Williams from the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at the U.K.'s University of Nottingham, said in a statement.

Most guidelines for acne care are based on expert opinions, but even those opinions may have conflicts of interest, the study noted.

Researchers said "almost half of recently published acne trials contain serious flaws that could be overcome by better reporting...The absence of trials with active comparators is a significant handicap to shared clinical decision making."

Medications, including retinoids, bezoyl peroxide, topical dapsone, hormonal medications like birth control pills and antibiotics, are the most common treatments for varying degrees of acne.  Experts have discouraged doctors in recent years from prescribing long-term antibiotics for treatment out of fear that patients will develop resistance to the medications.

But, Dr. Kevin Cooper, professor and chair of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, defended the research of many over-the-counter and prescribed acne-fighting products.

"There are many clinical trials published which demonstrate that the treatment being studied is better than placebo and has reasonable or minimal side effects," said Cooper. "This is necessary to obtain FDA approval of the medication or the medication combination.  In some cases the company may have compared the combination against the individual ingredients alone."

The study's reference to "lack of research," refers to comparative effectiveness research, where two competitive products are tested head-to-head to see if one is better than the other, Cooper noted.

While the best scientific evidence for most kinds of research comes from double-blind, prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, Dr. John Messmer, associate professor of family and community medicine at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, noted that those "are hard to do with acne."

Acne is not fully understood, but dermatologists say genetics, gender, hormones, other medications, skin type and sunlight contribute to the condition.  It is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting 40 to 50 million Americans according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and is usually caused by three common occurrences: the overproduction of oil, blockage of hair follicles that release oil and growth of bacteria within the follicles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio