Date: 14 December 2018
Researchers supported by the NIHR have found 15 genome regions linked to acne, a discovery that could lead to new treatments for the condition.
Many of the genetic variants uncovered by researchers at the NIHR Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Centre influence hair follicle formation.
Previously acne has been thought to be caused by skin inflammation. This new research suggests that hair follicle formation is a significant yet previously unknown risk factor for developing the condition.
Acne is a common skin condition affecting 80% of people aged 11-30. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that's hot or painful to touch. In severe cases, it can cause significant discomfort and distress, and can lead to permanent scarring. Although it’s more common in teenagers, it can appear and persist much later in life.
This new research, published in Nature Communications, looked at the DNA of 26,722 people, including 5,602 who have severe acne. Researchers identified genetic variations in 15 genome regions that were more common in people with severe acne.
Professor Jonathan Barker, a consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who led the study, said: “In the last 20-30 years, there have been few advances in the way we treat acne, and the current main treatment has a number of significant side effects.
“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.”
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