Here’s a fun fact: According to the latest statistics, 50 million Americans a year are diagnosed with dreaded, terrible, no-good acne. And if high school is anything like it was a few years ago, these people are suffering. Suffering even more? The adults who bought into the lie that acne would magically clear up once they received their diploma or turned 18 (whichever happened first) and are waking up to realize that just like diamonds, acne is forever.
So, what are people to do? Well, we could invest in Clearasil and Neutrogena and hope for the best, or we could put our trust into science. If you’re having trouble deciding which horse to back, here’s something that might convince you: researchers are working on a vaccine that would make acne a thing of the past.
The problem is that no one truly knows why acne happens. So, if you’ve ever wondered why your local drug store has an entire aisle devoted to different products that promise to clear up your skin and make you feel proud of your face, now you know. It’s a little disheartening to know how unarmed we are against the bacteria that pollutes our faces with blackheads and pimples, but that could change in the next one or two years.
Inside a lab at the University of California, San Diego, a group of scientists is working to eradicate acne for good. But developing a vaccine for acne has unique complications. “Acne is caused, in part, by P. acnes bacteria that are with you your whole life — and we couldn’t create a vaccine for the bacteria because, in some ways, P. acnes are good for you,” says Eric C. Huang, the project’s lead researcher. “But we found an antibody to a toxic protein that P. acnes bacteria secrete on skin — the protein is associated with the inflammation that leads to acne.” That means the vaccine can block the negative, acne-causing effects of P. acnes bacteria without killing the bacteria themselves.
The promising news is that the vaccine has already worked on biopsied human skin. That means we know that it’s got some utility in a lab setting. But what about actual human skin that’s still on someone’s face? Human trials, Allure reports, could happen as soon as one year from now. And who knows, maybe less than five years from now you could be one of the lucky people getting a shot to make all the acne go away. Start thinking about how you’ll spend all the money you’re sure to save on creams and lotions!