Scotland’s University of Stirling

Scotland’s University of Stirling

Researchers from the University of Stirling, in Scotland, have been studying algae containing certain fatty acids with various cleansing qualities – some of which, their research now shows, can prevent the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium that 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,” lead researcher Marine Biotechnology lecturer Dr. Andrew Desbois said. “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 defenses.”

Desbois and his team identified six fatty acids 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. “Normally, we obtain these beneficial fatty acids through consuming fish or seaweed in our diets,” said Desbois. “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.”

The findings of this research are published in the journal Marine Drugs. 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 fatty acids for treating acne and other skin diseases.