From holistic remedies to Accutane, millions of people in the U.S. are on a constant struggle to find the right cure for their acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a whopping 85 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 14 have at least a minor case of acne. However, a lab at the University of California, San Diego is working to revolutionize the way we approach the disease by re-teaching the immune system how to control Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), an “opportunistic” skin bacterium that results in acne when overproduced by the body.
The team of researchers led by adjunct dermatology professor Eric Huang, PhD, is in the midst of developing an acne probiotic that will encourage the growth of normal bacteria in the skin to lessen the overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes. The researchers were inspired to investigate ways of how to control Propionibacterium acnes when they discovered Christie-Atkins-Much-Peterson (CAMP) factor, a molecule that provokes acne. Due to antigen masking, the body doesn’t have an automated way to neutralize CAMP factor. So far, the scientists have successfully performed preliminary tests on mice and in human acne tissues. They plan on testing the protocol on patients in the next two years.
This revolutionary way of combatting acne through controlling P. acnes could decrease the use of antibiotics to tame acne. The size of acne treatment industry hovers over $3 billion. If Huang’s system goes off without a hitch, the skincare market could be flipped on its head.