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We and others have compared the microbiota of healthy and acne-affected skin and found that certain types of P. acnes are acne-associated whereas others are associated with healthy skin.
Two strategies to exploit these research findings for anti-acne treatment will be tested, individually and in combination.
Replacement ("good" bacteria replace "bad" bacteria) and Inhibition strategies (suppression of "bad" bacteria)
We will test if the replacement of the acne-associated microflora with health-associated types of P. acnes (a probiotic approach) is feasible and if this will result in shifting the balance towards a healhty skin microbiota. That would be a straightforward approach that resembles to some extent probiotic treatment of the gut.
This will be tested in combination with an inhibition strategy (suppresion of "bad" bacteria). The inhibtion of acne-associated P. acnes types requires a tailor-made intervention. To achieve this, we have compared the different P. acnes types and found host-interacting bacterial factors that differ between acne- and health-associated P. acnes types. These differences might explain why some strains of P. acnes cause disease while others do not.
This project aims at the specific inhibition of these host-interacting factors. Characterization of these factors will be done by a set of experiments, including protein production and structure identification, combined with keratinocyte (skin) cell culture experiments to examine their importance in disease formation and inflammation. Based on the structural information and functional characterization, we will select and test specific inhibitors for these target proteins, in order to generate/select a tailor-made inhibitor drug.
The specific inhibition of these factors will suppress the acne-associated types of P. acnes; the normal, health-associated microflora of the skin would be unharmed. This treatment would shift the balance towards a healthy microbiota. The two strategies (Replacement and Inhibition) might work best in combination, i.e. the inhibition of the acne-associated P. acnes types is complemented with the probiotic approach, i.e. the administration of health-associated bacterial types to colconize the affected skin.
Watch the following video to understand the essense of the project;