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BACKGROUND: To date, acne and associated morbidity represent an unmet clinical need. While the production of acne products has been prolific, the standard of treating acne with antibiotics and retinoid has not changed. Both antibiotic and retinoid-based treatments have varying efficacy and side effects between acne patients, driving continued research for the $3B acne market. Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium implicated in causing acne, is the intended target of most antimicrobial-based acne treatments. However, those treatments do not consider the genetic diversity between P. acnes strains nor their distribution within pores of the skin, which undoubtedly differs between individual patients. Thus, employing the principles of personalized medicine to treat acne will potentially improve treatment and diminish the social and psychological impacts of the disease.
INNOVATION: Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Huiying Li in the department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology at UCLA have developed a protocol to quickly and efficiently determine the microbiome type of acne subjects. Through quantitative methods, the researchers have identified ten major lineages of P. acnes and five major microbiome types within human subjects. Interestingly, specific strains were highly associated with acne, while others were associated with healthy skin. This technology allows "typing" of individual patients and opens the door to strain-specific drug targeting and vaccines, as well as probiotic treatments to seed healthy bacteria on acne prone skin.
DEVELOPMENT-TO-DATE: The investigators have devised the method to isolate DNA/RNA from pores and the protocol to rapidly and accurately identify the microbiome type. The typing protocol is PCR-based and is therefore rapid and cost-effective. The genomic sequences analyzed and corresponding primers have been uniquely defined by the investigators.
Reference: UCLA Case No. 2012-558
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