Shoo Away Those Acne with Marine Algae

Advises pour in for people suffering from acne. Some tell you to put sliced raw potato on the pimple-affected area while some suggest a dab of toothpaste over the zits. But don't be surprised when someone tells you to put sea algae on the acne.

Researchers at the Institute of Aquaculture, part of University of Stirling, found that some fatty acids, few also found in algae, can cure acne. According to the researchers, these fatty acids prevent the growth of Propionibacterium , 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."

The researchers found that six fatty acids were useful in curing skin condition. These included 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.

Marine algae create EPA, which is consumed by fish such as salmon and DGLA is produced by brown algae.

"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," Dr Desbois explained.

Acne generally occurs during puberty when the oil glands become active. Although the condition is not life threatening it leaves scars on face.

Dignity Science, a Dublin-based drug discovery and development company commissioned the study, which are currently in the trial stage to develop prescription medicines containing antibacterial fatty acids for treating acne and other skin diseases.

The research has been published in the journal 'Marine Drugs.'

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