Studies are now finding the bacteria that cause acne are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. We have seen a tripling of drug-resistant acne bacteria over the last few decades. As this becomes more common, researchers are scrambling to come up with new treatments for acne. One promising possibility involves harnessing a harmless virus living on skin that naturally seeks out and kills the bacteria that cause pimples.
Thes tiny bacteriophages may help fight acne on teens' skin. Photo by Charles Charles Bowman/University of Pittsburg
An article published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Microbiology describes this entirely new way to fight acne: taking a harmless virus that lives on the skin and programming it to become a bacteria killer. "The virus is going to go and kill the bacteria that causes acne. It's just going to break it apart and burst its membrane so there's no time for the bacteria to mutate," she says. It's sort of a surprise attack.
The approach is a promising way to get rid of acne without using antibiotics. If further lab studies prove successful, researchers will begin testing on people to see if viral therapy is both safe and effective in fighting acne.