A vaccine to treat and prevent acne could be one step closer to reality after a study revealed a way to block bacteria that damage the skin.
Scientists, for the first time, successfully focused on a type of bacteria that lives in the skin and stopped it producing toxins that cause inflammation.
The treatment is a form of immunotherapy that uses the body's own immune system to fight the bacteria.
And the discovery could be a ray of hope for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who suffer from the unpleasant condition of the skin.
Experts say that finding a way to fight acne within the body could eliminate the need for strong medications that can have brutal side effects and not work.
Scientists say they may be one step closer to developing a vaccine to attack acne after they figure out how to block bacteria in the skin so they do not release toxins that cause inflammation.
A study from the University of California at San Diego made laboratory tests on mice and human skin taken during biopsies.
The scientists confirmed that sending proteins from the immune system, called antibodies, to the bacteria that cause acne could reduce swelling in the skin.
The bacteria, known as Propionibacterium acnes, live harmlessly on the skin of most people, but in people with acne it can cause red bumps.
To do this, he releases a toxin, which researchers believe can be stopped in the dry using his new vaccine.
The antibodies are sent to the P. acnes bacterium by the vaccine and block the release of toxins that cause inflammation in the skin.
In their experiments, blocking the P. acnes bacteria successfully reduced inflammation in real samples of human skin with acne.
& # 39; The potential impact is huge for hundreds of millions of people & # 39;
"The potential impact of our findings is enormous for the hundreds of millions of people suffering from acne," said lead researcher Chun-Ming Huang.
"Current treatment options are often not effective or tolerable for many of the 85 percent of teens and the more than 40 million adults in the United States with this condition.
"New, safe and efficient therapies are urgently needed."
Acne is not defined as an infectious disease because it is caused by bacteria that live harmlessly on the skin of most people.
WHAT IS ACNE?
Acne is a common condition of the skin that causes several types of spots that can appear on the face, back or anywhere else on the body.
It is more common in adolescents, but it can also affect adults, and varies from a few points to a more severe inflammation of the skin that can leave scars.
Although the condition is not serious, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, which could affect people's social lives or cause depression.
It occurs when the skin glands produce too much oil that blocks the hair follicles along with the dead skin cells, which produces spots.
The bacteria that live on the skin can multiply in the oily conditions and cause redness and swelling around the blocked follicles.
It is believed that the triggers of the condition include hormonal imbalances, smoking and certain cosmetics or medications.
There are several treatments, including antibiotics, steroids and hormone therapy.
Source: British Skin Foundation
But bacteria can multiply around the spots caused when skin oils block hair follicles, and cause bigger nodules, pustules and cysts to develop.
This opens up new and exciting avenues to treat acne & # 39;
It is not clear why only some people are affected by the bacteria P. acnes, but hormonal imbalances, smoking and certain medications or cosmetics can trigger acne.
Symptoms can cause scars and the discomfort they cause can lead to mental health problems like depression, but acne itself is not a serious illness.
Dr. Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, told MailOnline: "We know that acne affects both adolescents and adults, leaving a lasting effect on psychological well-being.
"This opens up new and exciting avenues for the treatment of acne, including the possibility of creating an acne vaccine that would prevent acne altogether, which would be great for acne patients in the future."
Current medications may include steroids and antibiotics that can cause unwanted side effects.
Plans for large clinical trials
And although an expert warns that any immunotherapy must be "designed with caution to avoid unwanted disturbances" of the skin, California researchers are confident it could work.
They intend to conduct further studies to develop a chemical or vaccine that is safe and effective in humans and to conduct large clinical trials.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.