New research on genetic causes of acne

Author: talkhealth

Date: Feb 2017

A relatively new research group in Singapore, set up in 2014 and headed up by Professor Maurice van Steensel is looking at the causes of acne. The hope is that the group, funded with a subsidy of c£1m, will lead to long term research into skin diseases, and the discovery of new treatments for conditions such as acne. Professor van Steensel is an internationally renowned expert in genetic skin disorders.

Whilst the causes of acne to date are largely unknown, Professor van Steensel has evidence that the cause of moderate to severe acne could be in the genes. “Based on recent work we have radically new insights into the pathogenesis of acne. We are using those to build a high-content phenotypic screen, which can identify novel drugs to treat this very common skin disease.”

He went on to say, “As well as trying to find new treatments for acne through scientific research, we want to better understand the patient journey. Patients often don’t visit their GP for their acne and this can lead to delays in the appropriate treatment.”

Professor van Steensel believes that a new treatment for acne could be found within the next five years, and that such a treatment doesn’t need to be expensive. “Our goal is to produce something cheap that people could put on their faces that would keep them from getting acne in the first place or, if they already have acne, to treat it properly.”

“It will be something that you don’t have to put on your face every day and not have to use for very long."

“Already the model we have can quantify how a sebaceous gland will behave, its size, cell number and productivity. We can put numbers to all of that. If the drugs do what I’m expecting them to do we might have something new for acne.”

New treatments have been scarce in the last few years. Whilst acne can be physically and emotionally debilitating, it’s not life-threatening, so often gets ignored by research scientists.

The work Professor van Steensel is doing is both ground-breaking and potentially life-changing for those with acne.

Sources used in writing this article are available on request

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Last revised: 7 February 2017