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A Virus That Kills Acne

The ultimate zit-fighter might be a virus already living on your skin.

| September 26th, 2012
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bacteria petri dish

The future of skincare might look a lot like germ warfare—on your face. Researchers at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh just released a study showing that a harmless virus that lives inside your pores could be used as a powerful weapon against the common breakout-causing bacteria P. acnes.

MORE: Acne, Decoded

Where you find P. acnes you’re also bound to find P. acnes bacteriophages, viruses programmed to attack and kill their bacterial hosts (but not you, you’re safe). In the study, the results of which were published online this week in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, mBio, a group of dermatologists and biologists extracted 11 phages from skin samples and sequenced the viruses’ genes. They were surprised to find that the viruses were all genetically similar and great at killing acne bacteria across the board, making them “ideal candidates” for targeted therapies.

The next step is for researchers to isolate the active proteins in the phages with a goal of eventually testing a topical anti-acne compound.

MORE: Stop! Don't Pop (Your Pimples)!

In the meantime, check out our Acne Treatment Cheat Sheet for the low-down on effective products available now.

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