Dr. Leslie Baumann
A Vaccine for Acne Is on the Horizon
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Acne vulgaris remains the most widespread skin problem among teens and adults alike, affecting over 85 percent of teens and more than 70 percent of adults. Current acne treatments come along with a variety of pitfalls that make them less than ideal. Due to growing antibiotic resistance, antibiotics are no longer an effective solution for acne. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are effective at killing acne-causing bacteria and keep pores clean, but they can cause dryness and flaking, especially for patients with dry skin. Blue light therapy may contribute to signs of skin aging.
There is a clear need for new treatment approaches to clear acne without causing undesirable side effects. The good news is that we are now closer than ever to having a vaccine for acne that would inhibit acne-causing bacteria from triggering an inflammatory response.
Acne Vaccine Would Target CAMP Factor 2
As we learn more about the bacteria that live on human skin, it becomes increasingly apparent that this microbiome is in a delicate balance at all times. While certain strains of P. acnes bacteria have long been linked with acne lesions on the skin, we now understand that some strains of this bacteria could have beneficial effects, including preventing other harmful bacteria like S. aureus from invading the skin. For this reason, the ideal acne treatment would not merely eliminate P. acnes bacteria from the skin, but rather prevent it from setting off the inflammatory cascade that causes acne.
In this vein, researchers have discovered that the virulence factor Christie-Atkins-Munch-Peterson (CAMP) factor 2 produced by P. acnes bacteria causes an inflammatory response within the skin. In mice and ex vivo human skin studies, researchers found that antibodies to CAMP factor 2 decrease inflammation associated with P. acnes. Thus, by targeting inflammatory CAMP factor 2, rather than P. acnes itself, acne could be prevented while avoiding the disruption of the delicate microbiome of the skin.
Further, preliminary studies in mice suggest that such a vaccine would come along with little to no side effects, making it a desirable choice for many acne patients who struggle with dry skin.
When Will a Vaccine for Acne Be Available?
Additional research needs to be done on human skin before this vaccine will be available. However, this is something that could be a reality within the next 5 to 8 years, so be on the lookout for updates as more studies are done.
Exciting new research is underway to develop an effective vaccine for acne that would target underlying inflammation, rather than merely killing bacteria and potentially disrupting the skin’s microbiome. Although this vaccine is still in testing stages and isn’t expected to be available for another few years, preliminary studies demonstrate promising evidence that this vaccine could change the way we view acne treatments in the future.
Please feel free to connect with me (Leslie Baumann) on LinkedIn, where I post more articles, to stay up-to-date on the latest skin care research.
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