Everybody knows acne and 80% of us are or were affected by this disease, with more or less severe consequences for our well-being.


The project

We and other research teams have compared the skin microbiota (i.e. the microorganisms colonizing human skin) of healthy and acne-affected skin and found that certain types of the predominant bacterium Propionibacterium acnes are acne-associated whereas other types are associated with healthy skin. This important finding will be exploited in our proposed project to treat and cure acne.

see: scientific strategy

Background article

Population genetic analysis of Propionibacterium acnes identifies a subpopulation and epidemic clones associated with acne

The results of the study indicate that particular types of P. acnes play an etiologic role in acne while others are associated with health.  

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The involvement of Propionibacterium acnes in the pathogenesis of acne is controversial, mainly owing to its dominance as an inhabitant of healthy skin. This study tested the hypothesis that specific evolutionary lineages of the species are associated with acne while others are compatible with health. Phylogenetic reconstruction based on nine housekeeping genes was performed on 210 isolates of P. acnes from well-characterized patients with acne, various opportunistic infections, and from healthy carriers. Although evidence of recombination was observed, the results showed a basically clonal population structure correlated with allelic variation in the virulence genes tly and camp5, with pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE)- and biotype, and with expressed putative virulence factors. An unexpected geographically and temporal widespread dissemination of some clones was demonstrated. The population comprised three major divisions, one of which, including an epidemic clone, was strongly associated with moderate to severe acne while others were associated with health and opportunistic infections. This dichotomy correlated with previously observed differences in in vitro inflammation-inducing properties. Comparison of five genomes representing acne- and health-associated clones revealed multiple both cluster- and strain-specific genes that suggest major differences in ecological preferences and redefines the spectrum of disease-associated virulence factors. The results of the study indicate that particular clones of P. acnes play an etiologic role in acne while others are associated with health.


Be your own researcher!

Since acne is such a common disease we invite our funders to actively take part in our research efforts. Many people have suffered from acne in their adolescence, and some might have developed ideas for anti-acne treatment. This "crowdscience" project invites individuals to step forward to share their ideas. We will award the best ideas: 3 project ideas will be tested in our laboratories with the appropriate technology and our know-how, including a skin cell culture model and tests on modulating effects on the skin microbiota.

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