Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Acne vulgaris affects more than 80 percent of people at some point in their life and frequently continues into adulthood. Recent data suggest that there are about 700 million people living with acne around the world. This case focuses on a novel approach to fighting acne without the hazards of antibiotic resistance development.

Acne impacts millions of lives negatively all across the globe

Acne is associated with diminished quality of life, lower self-esteem and even suicide attempts. The social, psychological, and emotional impairment that can result from acne has been reported to be similar to that associated with epilepsy, asthma, diabetes, and arthritis. The problem does not go unnoticed or without remedies, but they are not sufficient or efficient enough, and the different treatments come with problems ranging from antibiotic resistance to skin irritation.

GlobalData estimates the 2016 pharmacological therapy sales for acne to a total of approximately $2.9B across the seven major pharmaceutical markets: the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan. The US contributes with 90 percent and an estimated $2.6B in acne therapy sales in 2016.

The reason behind inflammatory acne still not clear

Although inflammatory acne has been well characterized clinically, the mechanisms by which inflammatory lesions arise are still poorly understood. Excessive growth of the human skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, which is normally present on the skin, has long been associated with inflammatory acne. The bacteria can form large aggregates or biofilms, which may contribute to resistance towards antimicrobial agents.

Current effective treatments may elevate antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are effective for acne treatment, but it requires at least a 12 weeks treatment and this is associated with the risk of bacterial resistance. The prolonged treatment (12–16 weeks) negatively influences compliance and the problems recur as soon as the antibiotics treatment is withdrawn. There are also creams etc. for topical treatment, but many modalities cause local skin irritation.

Lowering antibiotics-use and helping acne-patients at the same time

We have identified a bacterial protein that can degrade Propionibacterium acnes biofilm in vitro. The properties of the protein are unique and the approach to target biofilms in acne vulgaris is novel. Our strategy is to purify the bacterial protein and use it as an ingredient of a facial cream. Compared to the currently available acne treatments our proposed product has the potential to:

• Combine daily habits of applying facial cream once a day and reduce appearance of acne lesions in five days.
• Lower the use of antibiotics which is beneficial for patients, health care and society at large.

UBI Incubation Phase

Verify 1

Contact Information

Umeå Biotech Incubator
Tvistevägen 48C
907 36 Umeå
Oleg Alexeyev
Physician, Department of Pathology, Umeå University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden
Gabriella Persson
Project manager