Monthly Archives: July 2013

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A bacteria typically found in our pores, may actually protect skin from acne

According to findings published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, certain strains of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria typically found in our pores, may actually protect skin from other strains of P. acnes that cause inflammation in the form of pimples.acne_small

A team from UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute collected samples of P. acnes from the noses of 101 people, about half of whom had acne. Researchers than sequenced the genomes of 66 of the more than 1,000 P. acnes strains identified, focusing their attention on genes unique to each strain.

The team discovered one strain of P. acnes that was common on healthy skin but rarely found on skin with acne. Two other strains of the bacteria, on the other hand, were typically found on the pimpled people but rarely on those with clear skin.

Researchers suspect the strain associated with clear skin may have a natural defense mechanism that destroys other, less desirable strains before they can cause inflammation.

“This P. acnes strain may protect the skin, much like yogurt’s live bacteria help defend the gut from harmful bugs,” said Huiying Li, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffin School of Medicine at UCLA.


Adapted from: “Good” Bacteria is Secret to Avoiding Acne by Gemma Tarlach in The Discovery Magazine

Odors from Human Skin Cells Can Be Used to Identify Melanoma

According to new research from the Monell Center and collaborating institutions, odors from human skin cells can be used to identify melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In addition to detecting a unique odor signature associated with melanoma cells, the researchers also demonstrated that a nanotechnology-based sensor could reliably differentiate melanoma cells from normal skin cells. The findings suggest that non-invasive odor analysis may be a valuable technique in the detection and early diagnosis of human melanoma.

Melanoma is a tumor affecting melanocytes, skin cells that produce the dark pigment that gives skin its color. The disease is responsible for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths, with chances of survival directly related to how early the cancer is detected. Current detection methods most commonly rely on visual inspection of the skin, which is highly dependent on individual self-examination and clinical skill.

The current study took advantage of the fact that human skin produces numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which are odorous. “There is a potential wealth of information waiting to be extracted from examination of VOCs associated with various diseases, including cancers, genetic disorders, and viral or bacterial infections,” notes George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at Monell who is one of the paper’s senior authors.

“We are excited to see that the DNA-carbon nanotube vapor sensor concept has potential for use as a diagnostic. Our plan is to move forward with research into skin cancer and other diseases,” said A.T. Charlie Johnson, PhD, Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the development of the olfactory sensor.

Together, the findings provide proof-of-concept regarding the potential of the two analytical techniques to identify and detect biomarkers that distinguish normal melanocytes from different melanoma cell types.

“This study demonstrates the usefulness of examining VOCs from diseases for rapid and noninvasive diagnostic purposes,” said Preti. “The methodology should also allow us to differentiate stages of the disease process.”

Current studies are focusing on analysis of VOCs from tumor sites of patients diagnosed with primary melanoma.

From: Monell Chemical Senses Center. “Odors from human skin cells can be used to identify melanoma.” ScienceDaily, 13 Jun. 2013. Web. 5 Jul. 2013.

Researchers identified odorants from human skin cells that can be used to identify melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. (Credit: © alejandro dans / Fotolia)

Eczema More Prevalent in Smokers

While smoking has been known for some time to aggravate Asthma, 
a recent Israeli study of 10,298 adolescents (13-14 years old) 
has shown that Eczema and Allergic Rhinitis is also more 
prevalent in smokers than non-smokers.
However,  second hand smoke is associated with Asthma but 
not Eczema. (Dermatology, Basel, 2013 may 24 EPub ahead of print)
In other words:  "You may not want to stop smoking to avoid
lung damage, but you may if it makes you itch,"  said Dr. Eugene Mandrea.

A New Option for Treating Nail Fungus

Treating toenail fungus infections has long been frustrating  
for dermatologists and patients.

So far, the only Food and Drug Administration approved treatment consists of taking 
an oral medication like Lamisil (Terbinafine) for  2-3 months. A potential
side effect of Lamisil is that it may cause temporary liver toxicity. In fact, 
blood tests are neeeded before and one month after
starting the treatment. Sporanox (Itraconazole)and other drugs in its class 
are effective systemically, but they can interact 
with numerous other medicines making them potentially unsafe for many patients.

The clinical "cure" rate for patients on Lamisil is 38% versus 14% with Sporanox.

Topical treatments have failed so far having less than a 10% success rate.
A recent article in the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology (April 2013) 
describes the preliminary results of treatment with a relatively new topical 
antifungal: Efinaconazole. 

The results are not entirely in, as the study is not 
yet finished, but it may approach the clinical "cure" rate of Lamisil and Sporanox
with minimal side effects.

Efinaconazole is not yet available commercially, but it may become available 
within one year.

Vaccination Crucial in Stopping the Spread of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

About 79 million Americans, mostly in 
their late teens 
and early twenties are infected with 
the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). 
Each year about 14 million people 
become newly infected.
The Good News:
The prevalence of the HPV infection in 
adolescent girls in the United States has 
declined by 56% among females 
14 to 19 years old since 2006,
when the Gardasil vaccine was 

This decline is despite a relatively
low rate of vaccination: only 50% of adolescent girls have 
received the vaccine.

The Bad News:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 19,000 cancers, 
mostly cervical, caused by the HPV Infection, occur each year in women. 
About 8000 cancers caused by the HPV infection,mostly oropharyngeal,
occur yearly in infected men. 

If the vaccination rate went up to 80%, about 50,000 
cases of cervical cancer could be prevented 
in the USA, according to the Centers for disease control.