Acne is common and can be difficult to manage. The usual treatment involves antibiotics, either topically or orally. These drugs help control bacteria that are responsible for skin blemishes. Using broad-spectrum antibiotics for long periods of time has many disadvantages. For one thing, tetracycline-type drugs can interfere with digestive bacteria. In addition, skin bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics.
Now scientists at UCLA report some exciting research that viruses called bacteriophages may offer a whole new way to treat acne. These viruses hone in only on the specific bacteria associated with pimples. They cause no adverse human effects but they kill the bacteria associated with pimples, which do not develop resistance to this treatment. Bacteriophage therapy has a long history against other infections but has never caught on in the U.S. Perhaps this new application will spur drug developers to follow-up with bacteriophage for other hard-to-treat infections.
[mBio, online, Sept. 25, 2012]