Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Could viruses be used to treat acne?

Scientists have isolated and studied the genomes of 11 viruses, known as phage, that can infect and kill the acne-causing bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, potentially paving the way for topical therapies that use viruses or viral products to treat this vexing skin condition. Their results are reported in the September 25 issue of mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

"There are two fairly obvious potential directions that could exploit this kind of research," says Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh, an author of the study. "The first is the possibility of using the phages directly as a therapy for acne. The second is the opportunity to use phage-derived components for their activities."

P. acnes is a normal resident on human skin, but its numbers increase substantially at puberty, eliciting an inflammatory response that can lead to acne. Although antibiotics can be effective in treating acne, antibiotic-resistant strains of P. acnes have emerged, highlighting the need for better therapies.

Hatfull and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh along with scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, isolated phages and P. acnes bacteria from human volunteers with and without acne, then sequenced the phages' genomes. What they found in those genomes was surprising. The phages were all remarkably similar, sharing more than 85% of their DNA, an unheard of level of similarity among viruses, which usually exhibit a great deal of diversity. This lack of genetic diversity suggests that resistance to phage-based antimicrobial therapy is less likely to develop, they say.

All of the phages carry a gene that makes a protein called endolysin, an enzyme that is thought to break down bacterial cell walls and kill the bacteria. Enzymes like this are used in other applications, says Hatfull, suggesting that endolysin from these phages might also be useful as a topical anti-acne therapeutic. "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 applications," he says.

From here, Hatfull says, research with these phages will explore how they might be used therapeutically, but phages like these can also provide useful tools, like genes and enzymes, that can be used to manipulate and understand the bacteria they infect. "The information derived from these phages helps contribute toward those kinds of genetic tools," says Hatfull.

mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>