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Acne gene find brings hope for sufferers

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Acne gene find brings hope for sufferers

Press Association

Friday July 30, 2004

Scientists claim they have discovered the gene of a bug which causes acne which could help find a cure for the condition that causes misery for thousands of teenagers.

They have found that the DNA of the microbe that is believed to play a major role in the cause of acne contains 2,333 genes, many of which can attack and destroy parts of human skin, according to research published yesterday.

The blueprint showed the genes could generate proteins involved in degrading enzymes and substances in the skin, which trigger the inflammation associated with acne.

The microbe is normally harmless and lives in the glands that secrete oil into hair follicles.

The researchers believe that by understanding the genetic blueprint of a bug that causes acne new treatments can be developed.

The skin disorder affects 80% of adolescents, and can develop on the face, chest and back. The severity of cases varies, but the worst cases can be psychologically devastating.

There can be different forms of acne, which can occur at the same time including non-inflamed blackheads and whiteheads, as well as inflammatory red bumps. Picked and scratched spots can leave scars.

The research was led by Holger Bruggemann from Georg-August University in Gottingen, Germany, and was published in the journal Science.

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The genetic code of one of mankind’s scourges has been identified- that of the most common bacteria that causes acne. While such a target may not seem like a priority, tell that to the 17 million plus Americans who suffer from acne. Patrick McElgunn, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins, says that knowing the genetic code will likely help develop even better treatments.

McELGUNN: Anytime you can find more information about bacteria or the biologic or genetic basis for disease it gives you the opportunity to a know more about the disease and b direct more specific therapy against the disease. The genetic issues that they have discovered by doing the genetic code on the acne bacteria allows you to start thinking about reasons why some drugs may work and some drugs don’t work. :26

McElgunn says that acne treatments do best when they’re started early, so at the first sign of acne see a dermatologist. When treatment is begun promptly progression can often be halted.


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Acne bug's nasty secrets spotted

19:00 29 July 04

NewScientist.com news service

The newly completed genome sequence of the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes has revealed thousands of genes that give the organism the potential to cause skin disease.

Acne is a common and sometimes disfiguring complaint, affecting more than 80% of US adolescents. A number of factors are involved, including the bacterium and hormone levels.

But, until now, the importance of P. acne's role was unknown. Holger Brüggemann, who sequenced the microbe with colleagues at the Göttingen Genomics Laboratory, Germany, says it was simply thought that if a large number of bacteria were present, it would trigger the inflammation and immune response associated with acne.

The new genomic data shows that the bacterium can produce proteins that actively cause acne. “P. acnes was regarded as a normal, harmless skin inhabitant – it wasn’t known that this bacterium has got a disease-causing potential,� says Brüggemann.

The team sequenced the 2.5 million bases in the genome of a P. acnes strain and identified 2333 genes, including some which code for enzymes that break down human skin.

“Sequencing the whole genome has revealed that the bacterium can actively degrade human skin tissue because of the massive presence of these enzymes, and also that there are specific immunogenic proteins which are present in this bacterium which trigger the immune response,� Brüggemann told New Scientist.

Contaminated blood

The fact that the microbe can be actively pathogenic raises the possibility of a potential public health threat from contamination of blood bank samples. Previous studies have found P. acnes in donated blood, introduced when skin flakes are dislodged during the processing of blood products or when an injection site is not properly sterilised.

Jochewed B. Werch, Chief of Transfusion Service, at the Ben Taub General Hospital in Texas has studied this problem, but believes that contamination is not likely to be a severe threat.

This is because the bacterium is extremely slow-growing, particularly in blood. “We cannot completely discount it, however,� she says, “because it has the potential.�

As well as highlighting risks, the P. acnes genome could also help develop new acne treatments. Severe acne is usually treated with common antibiotics, but many strains are becoming resistant to these. “With the genome sequence it’s now quite easy to generate specific drugs against this bacterium,� says Brüggemann. “That’s the next task.�

The genome also reveals a P. acnes gene mistakenly annotated as a human gene in the international Genbank database. This raised the possibility that if human sequence stored there is contaminated with bacterial sequences, other human sequence data may be similarly affected.

However, after investigating this, Julian Parkhill at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, UK, told New Scientist that the gene “has never been part of the human sequencing effort, it’s part of another effort to randomly sequence fragments of DNA from human tissue".

He notes there is always a level of contamination in shotgun sequencing – the strategy employed for the GenBank sequence.

Journal reference: Science (vol 305, p 671)

Cathy Holding

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Ultimately, this knowledge will aid in the development of new treatments to specifically knock out the bacterium without the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, Dr. Holger Bruggemann told Reuters Health.

Their findings help explain why the organism is so widespread and how it can cause a variety of conditions, the researchers write in their report in the journal Science.

Of note, the organism encodes the key components of multiple metabolic pathways, which allows it to grow under various conditions.

The authors also identified DNA sequences for enzymes that permit it to attach to host cells and degrade host tissue.

Severe acne is currently treated with antibiotics, which poses two problems, Dr. Bruggemann said. "You kill other beneficial bacteria, and you increase antibiotic resistance against common antibiotics," he explained.

Having the complete genetic make-up of the bug will help scientists "figure out which factors have to be inactivated so that Propionibacterium acnes' growth is diminished or the interaction with the host is blocked."

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Cutaneous Biology

Propionibacterium acnes and inflammation in acne; P. acnes has T-cell mitogenic activity

U.Jappe * E.Ingham J.Henwood and K.T.Holland

Background Circumstantial evidence suggests that Propionibacterium acnes has a role in the inflammation of acne. This could be effected by antigenic or superantigenic or mitogenic reactions.

Objectives The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether P. acnes had only antigenic activity or additional superantigenic and mitogenic activity.

Methods A lymphocyte transformation assay was used to detect responses to a mixture of eight P. acnes whole cell isolates, and their supernatant culture fluids. In order to determine the nature of T-cell reactions to P. acnes cells a mouse-antihuman major histocompatibility complex class II monoclonal antibody was used in the lymphocyte transformation assay to inhibit the antigenic stimulation of lymphocytes. An analysis of the T-cell receptor (TCR) variable region (BV) repertoire was undertaken using flow cytometry of the unstimulated and stimulated cells.

Results Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) from adults with no history of acne responded strongly to stationary growth phase cells of P. acnes, less strongly to cells in the exponential growth phase. No response was detected to supernatant culture fluids. PBMNC from five cord blood samples (CBMNC) responded maximally after 3 and 7 days of incubation with stationary growth phase cells of P. acnes. The reaction of CBMNC to P. acnes cells was not suppressed completely by the blocking antibody. The analysis of the TCRBV repertoire indicated that P. acnes induced no deletion or over-representation of certain BV element-bearing T cells. The TCRBV analysis was repeated after preincubation with the blocking antibody. Deletion of T cells bearing certain BV components occurred and there was no over-representation of T cells carrying certain BV components.

Conclusions Two mechanisms of lymphocyte activation by P. acnes cells are proposed, antigen and mitogen driven. These results are consistent with the histological evidence of inflammation in acne lesions.

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Was this in England? I was watching the news, some English scientists proclaimed they had accidentally found a feasible cure which kills the bacteria which causes acne while they were in the lab, I didn't know what they specialised in when I found out bc it was by pure accident that made it come true. they were looking for candidates to experiment on, and anyone would be waiting 3 years till its on the market. eusa_wall.gif

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