In one of the pioneering genetic studies of acne, it has been seen that the condition that affects millions of teenagers and adults could have a genetic basis. This genetic study can also pave the way for new and accurate treatment for acne promise researchers. The study results are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications.
Close-up of acne on the skin. Image Credit: KirinIsHappy / Shutterstock
For this study the researcher team from National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical research centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital, looked at 26,722 individuals of which 5,602 people had severe acne. They noted that there was a genetic signature among those with severe acne. These multiple genetic variants affect the formation of hair follicles that influence the risk of acne. The team found that some people have a different shape of hair follicles that make them more prone to developing acne because these can harbour the bacteria that can cause acne.
Acne commonly affects 80 percent individuals aged between 11 and 30 years and there are several causes of this condition including hormonal, bacterial infection, oily skin etc. These statistics are from the NHS. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 85 percent of Americans with acne belong to the age group of 12 to 24 years. Skin can get hot and painful to touch and some spots may leave scars after they have healed. At present the treatment for acne is isotretinoin containing medications. These preparations however are not free from adverse effects or side effects such as muscle pain, drying of skin etc. They are especially harmful for the unborn baby if used by pregnant women.
Study leader and dermatologist Prof Jonathan Barker said that over the last few decades there has been a few advances in acne research. He said in a statement, “Applying these genetic approaches to acne has never been done before, and it’s a significant leap forward. When you have insight into the genetic basis of a condition, you can develop much more effective treatments.” He emphasized that early treatment for acne could also prevent formation of scars that are commonly seen in persons with severe acne after the acne has resolved. The team noted that there were 15 genetic locations that predisposed to acne. Of these 12 were identified for the first time in this study.
Co-author Professor Michael Simpson who is leader of the Genomic Medicine Group at King's College London in a statement said, “A number of the genetic variants point to interesting mechanisms that could be really good targets for new drugs or treatments that would really help patients.”
The authors wrote in their paper, “Acne can have severe emotional and psychological consequences and has been associated with depression, unemployment, suicidal ideation and suicide itself. The treatment regimes are often ineffective and poorly tolerated, and there remains a substantial unmet medical need.”