Marine algae can help acne sufferers

Marine algae can help acne sufferers
Seaweed. Credit: Tom Ashton

Scientists from the University of Stirling have discovered an unlikely treatment for acne – marine algae.

Research by marine scientists at the University's internationally renowned Institute of Aquaculture revealed the cleansing qualities of certain fatty acids including some produced by algae.

They found these fatty acids prevent the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium which causes the common skin condition.

"The fatty acids inhibited the growth of the bacterium at concentrations similar to other acne treatments like benzoylperoxide and salicylic acid," explained Marine Biotechnology lecturer Dr Andrew Desbois, who led the study.

"Many fatty acids inhibit or kill bacteria and now some of these have been shown to prevent the growth of Propionibacterium acnes. Fatty acids are present naturally on our skin to defend us against unwanted bacteria so the application of additional fatty acids will augment our existing defences."

New treatment options for acne are being sought as current drugs may cause side effects on the skin and bacterial resistance is making them less effective.

Scientists found six fatty acids were effective, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid already known to be important for human health and wellbeing, and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. EPA is produced by and then accumulated via the food chain into fish like salmon, while DGLA is made by some types of brown algae.

Dr Desbois added: "Normally, we obtain these beneficial fatty acids through consuming fish or seaweed in our diets. However, we are planning to formulate the fatty acids into an ointment that can be applied to the skin to help people suffering with acne."

Dublin-based drug discovery and development company Dignity Sciences commissioned the study and are currently at the trial stage to develop prescription medicines containing antibacterial for treating acne and other diseases.

The research has been published in the journal Marine Drugs.

More information: www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/11/11/4544

Related Stories

Researchers make a case for free fatty acids

date Oct 22, 2013

The current global epidemic of obesity-linked diabetes and its associated consequences -cardiovascular, neurological and renal diseases - is a growing public health problem for which therapeutic options are limited.

Fatty acids could aid cancer prevention and treatment

date Aug 01, 2013

Omega-3 fatty acids, contained in oily fish such as salmon and trout, selectively inhibit growth and induce cell death in early and late-stage oral and skin cancers, according to new research from scientists ...

Spicing up your fish fillets with science

date Aug 14, 2013

The health benefits of consuming omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are well established. The primary sources of these fatty acids in the human diet are through fish and seafood. Researchers ...

Recommended for you

India's bidi workers suffer for 1,000-a-day habit

date 8 hours ago

Zainab Begum Alvi and her band of young helpers hunch over baskets filled with tobacco flakes and dried leaves, trying to roll a thousand dirt-cheap cigarettes a day at the behest of India's powerful bidi barons.

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

date Apr 17, 2015

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

date Apr 17, 2015

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.