Guest Post – Lily Bryant
According to a report published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, there are thought to be between two million and three million acne sufferers in India. Acne can lead to low self-esteem and image problems and is the scourge of teenage boys all over the country. Fortunately towards the end of 2012, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburgh in the United States discovered that phages living on our skin possess the ability to kill propionibacterium acnes, which is the virus that causes it. This could be good news for those whose skin is tarnished by this condition and mean that an end is in sight.
There has been a rapid increase in the promotion of drugs aimed at enhancing individuals’ physical appearances in recent years. The weight loss industry has grown at a yearly rate of over twenty-five percent, with more people than ever purchasing diet pills and fat burners, the hair loss treatment industry has been growing by one percent per year and the acne treatment industry has also seen significant growth. People’s daily lives are affected in a major way by how they look so a cure for acne could be both highly profitable for the pharmaceutical company that is responsible for it and highly beneficial to sufferers.
In order to arrive at their discovery, the researchers at the two universities analysed phages and deduced that they make endolysin, which breaks down propionibacterium acnes before killing it. They also discovered that the phages shared eighty-five percent of their DNA. This is unusual for viruses and means that when used as a treatment, it would be unlikely that immune resistance would develop.
Advantages Over Other Forms of Treatment
Unlike antibiotics, which kill many different types of bacteria including ones that live in the gut and can have positive effects, phages are programmed to only target specific bacteria. According to director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Clinic for Acne, Rosacea and Aesthetics Dr Jenny Kim, who was one of the researchers, many acne strains are now resistant to antibiotics such as tetracycline, as they are so widely used. Drugs like Accutane are still effective but can have risky side effects, which limits their use. The researchers at the two universities have stated that phages could offer a tailored therapy that has less adverse side effects. Therefore phages could be the new form of acne medication that those inflicted with the condition have been looking for.
Development of New Drugs and Treatments
Study co-author Graham Hatfull, who is a biotechnology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, has stated that there are two ways in which this research could be used with regards to the development of new drugs and treatments. He says that phages could either be used directly as therapy for acne or phage-based components could be utilised. Professor Hatfull also says that the work that the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburgh have carried out has provided the world with useful information about phages and paved the way for the thinking up of potential applications for them. He points out that whilst acne is a condition that a significant percentage of the population is likely to suffer from at some point in their lives, there are still currently few effective methods for curing it. Hatfull says that harnessing a virus that naturally preys upon the bacteria that causes spots looks to be a promising means of reducing both the physical and the mental scars that acne can inflict upon individuals.
Implications of the Research
It appears that being forced to endure pimples and spots could soon bee a thing of the past. The results of a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2010 demonstrate that acne can severely negatively impact upon the self-esteem of sufferers and increase the risk of them developing psychological disorders. It can make them two to three times more likely to become clinically depressed. Therefore it is high time that there was a means of treating it and phages could provide the answer. Now it is just a matter of deciding what the best way of using them to gain the optimum results in acne reduction is.
About Lily Bryant
Lily Bryant is a writer working with one of only two licensed online pharmacies in the US. She is strongly interested in promoting and creating content aimed at relevant readers as part of her role in ethical healthcare business. She believes that it is important that we play a strong role in leading society towards a healthier lifestyle through the promotion of exercise and healthy diet rather than an early adoption of drug treatment.