In the long, long list of reasons why people are miserable in high school, acne is often pretty close to the top. Of course, we here at DVICE, being tech nerds, were obviously very popular despite our spotty faces, but for the rest of you, a vaccine for acne may be finally on the way.
Pimples happen when pores in your skin get clogged up, which causes the oxygen level inside the pore to drop. This causes an otherwise friendly sort of bacteria to freak out and start eating away at your skin cells, and your body panics in response, sending extra blood and white blood cells to the site to fight off the infection. Helloooooo, pimple!
Keeping your skin clean to prevent clogged pores is helpful, but that's just a preventative measure, not a treatment for acne itself. Antibiotics and antibacterial creams can help keep the nasty bacteria in check, but in addition to also killing off all of your other skin bacteria that are good and important, antibacterials will ultimately just hasten the evolution of even nastier bugs.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have instead tried a new approach: they're targeting just the proteins in the bacteria that are used to attack our skin cells, which is the initial trigger for pimple formation, as opposed to the bacteria themselves. By genetically manipulating a radish plant to produce these proteins and then grinding up the plant and making a nasal spray out of it, they were able to get mice to start producing antibodies capable of neutralizing just the bad proteins themselves, while leaving the bacteria alone. This means that all the good bacteria are safe, all the bad bacteria can't evolve resistance, and the nasty protein that causes the pimple is rendered ineffective.
Results have been promising enough in mice that the UCSD team has partnered with Sanofi-Pasteur, the world's biggest vaccine company, to turn this into something that humans can use. While the idea of a nasal spray or pill may be the most appealing way to go, the first use of this vaccine may involve stabbing your face with microneedles to deliver the antibodies directly. Hmm: acne, or no acne but getting stabbed in the face with needles? Yeah, bring on the needles.
Via New Scientist