A February, 2010 article in the JDDG (Journal of the German Society of Dermatology) entitled “FoxO1 – the key for the pathogenesis and therapy of acne?” came across my desk recently. For those of you out there who are medical researchers or just into this stuff, if you want to look into this with me, it would be cool to see if we agree with the author’s hypothesis.
Basically, what the author, Bodo Melnik, proposes is that lowered levels of Fox01 (a nuclear transcription factor) leads to all of the processes we see in acne formation: the androgen/acne connection, cell wall overgrowth, increased sebum, higher levels of acne bacteria, and ensuing inflammation. He proposes that environmental factors which upregulate Fox01, such as diet, retinoids, and antibiotics, may all work to a degree because of this Fox01 stimulation.
We know that acne has a genetic component, so it’s worthwhile to look at gene expression when attempting to gauge what causes acne, and how it might be treated. If in fact Fox01 turns out to be a key factor in acne pathogenesis, perhaps Fox01 therapy could be around the corner. It’s interesting to think about. I hope to see more study in this area.
Recently I made the decision that acne just needs to be cured. So I started research in that vein, and I found that in 2001, scientists started work on an acne vaccine. More specifically, it is an anti-P.acnes bacteria vaccine. Since P. acnes is the bacteria implicated in acne formation and is a major culprit in acne development, if we can somehow turn off its genetic expression, the hope is that we can prevent or cure acne.
A brief history of the vaccine: A company called Corixa worked with a French company to decode the 2.8 milion base pairs that make up the P. acnes genome back in 2001. They then started working on identifying antigens in order to create a vaccine. Glaxo Smith Kline acquired Corixa in 2005. From there, mention of the vaccine seemed to fall off the map, until an article published in 2008 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology surfaced. The article outlined research at the University of California San Diego in which scientists developed vaccines against P. acnes and successfully used the vaccine in both mice and in the lab using human sebum (skin oil) cells.
The trail seems to end there again. I’m in the process of contacting the researchers at UCSD to get more information. I find this area of work fascinating. I’ll keep you posted on anything I uncover. For now, let’s not get our hopes up too much however. Acne development is multi-faceted. While P. acnes plays a part, it is unknown how much it directly causes the other factors in acne development such as pores becoming clogged, oil overproduction, or inflammation.
Cool news you guys. I’ve been working with Daniel, our intern, as well as a statistician, and a well known doctor to put together a “prospective dietary trial” on milk and acne. What is a “prospective dietary trial”? Well, it means basically that we’re going to ask people on Acne.org to stop eating and drinking dairy and to fill out surveys and take pictures to document changes in their acne symptoms. If we get enough people to volunteer and follow through, it could be seminal research on the topic. Pretty darn cool.
Daniel, our intern, has been amazing with all of this–big shout out to him. He’s basically running the show. But all of us can be involved too! I’ve decided to be a candidate for the study, which will be hard because it will mean no pizza, but I’ll do it in the name of science! I’ll let you all know when this starts and when you can sign up.
Rosacea: It’s not acne vulgaris, but it’s similar. I’d like to make a nice rosacea page to outline what it is, how it’s different, and appropriate approaches to therapy.
Free radicals: Questions I’d like to answer: Free radicals are necessary for bodily maintenance, but how much is too much? When are anti-oxidants best utilized?
Scarring: I have not looked into the latest scar revision techniques for a couple of years. It’s time! I’ll update the scars pages accordingly.
B5: Despite the severe paucity of research on this topic, it keeps coming up, so I’ll delve as deeply as I can and make a page about it.
Hormones: In particular, you guys keep asking me questions regarding masturbation and acne. As is often the case, there is zero research on this exact topic, but looking more widely at hormones may shed some light. I’ll see if I can’t make a hypothesis or two regarding this sensitive topic.