Calif. scientists one step closer to developing acne vaccine

Calif. scientists one step closer to developing acne vaccine

Most acne sufferers have grown accustomed to slathering their skin with a barrage of creams, ointments and remedies to rid themselves of the recurring pustules. California scientists are one step closer to creating a vaccine that prevents acne from appearing in the first place.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego discovered that an inflammation-inducing toxin in the body can be decreased by targeting it with specific antibodies.

The scientists demonstrated how the toxin, known as the Christie-Atkins-Munch-Peterson (CAMP) factor, produces inflammation in animal tissue. They found the inflammation could be reduced in mice and cultured human skin cells by using antibodies that target CAMP.

CAMP had not been previously been identified as a possible cause of acne, also known as acne vulgaris, thus the significance of the research, which was published Wednesday in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.


“Once validated by a large-scale clinical trial, the potential impact of our findings is huge for the hundreds of millions of individuals suffering from acne vulgaris,” said lead investigator Chun-Ming Huang, of the University of California, San Diego, in a statement.

The next step will be developing a humane-safe vaccine that specifically targets CAMP, a lengthy and complicated process.

Acne is a non-life-threatening condition, though its psychologic effects can be immense, especially for adolescents with already precarious self esteem. Doctors currently treat acne with topicals, hormone regulators (like the contraceptive pill) or isoretinoin (also known as Roaccutane).

The treatments can be accompanied by severe side effects — if they work at all.

“Current treatment options are often not effective or tolerable for many of the 85 percent of adolescents and more than 40 million adults in the United States who suffer from this multi-factorial cutaneous inflammatory condition,” Huang said. “New, safe, and efficient therapies are sorely needed.”

Read Michelle Robertson’s latest stories and send her news tips at mrobertson@sfchronicle.com.

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