Acne: a microalgae, a revolutionary treatment against this skin disease?

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Acne, a benign disease that eventually heals on its own.
Acne, a benign disease that eventually heals on its own. (© Ocskay Bence – Adobe Stock)

She is called the ” Skeletonema marinoi »and she might revolutionizing acne treatments. This microalga would have a beneficial effect on this skin problem which ruins the lives of millions of teenagers, and even adults, by acting against certain skin bacteria, including those of acne.

This is a discovery of researchers from the French research institute for the exploitation of the sea (Ifremer) in Nantes, still in the research phase. With the help of the Universities of La Rochelle and Limoges, and the University Hospital of Nantes, a patent was filed in October 2021.

photoactivated molecules

The “Skeletonema marinoi”, present in large quantities on the Atlantic coast, is microscopic to the naked eye. However, the natural extract of this seaweed has amazing properties, when its molecules are photoactivated.

“They have an action on the bacteria responsible for acne,” explains Jean-Baptiste Béraud, engineer in marine biology at Ifremer.

Once excited by light, the molecules present in this microalgae create other molecules which eliminate the bacteria responsible for acne.

Jean-Baptiste Beraud Engineer in marine biology at Ifremer in Nantes

For Jean-Baptiste Béraud, these marine organisms have “many advantages”.

“First of all, these are algae with properties anti-bacterial. And then, the extract is naturalit’s a “green” solution, without aggressive solvents”, notes the engineer in marine biology.

Dermo-cosmetic use

Thus, to treat acne, the principle would be toincorporate this seaweed extract into creamsaccording to a dosage to be determined, and apply it locally on the areas to be treated, then photoactivateby going to the sun or with light therapy devices, as the Nantes researcher points out.

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” Warning, this treatment will not be medicine. The idea is not to replace other pharmaceutical and dermatological treatments, but touse this invention for cosmetic or dermo-cosmetic use. The cream would be sold in pharmacies, without a prescription, and intended for the general public”, nuance Jean-Baptiste Béraud.

The “Skeletonema marinoi” would therefore be effective on rather mild acnewhich account for 80% of acne cases.

This cream, by attenuating acne episodes, could lead to attenuating situations where the pathology becomes severe, by preventing the problem at its beginning. This also makes it possible to reduce antibiotics and is still an interesting alternative.

Jean-Baptiste BeraudEngineer in marine biology at Ifremer

In addition to acting on the bacteria responsible for acne, this plant extract could also reduce sebum productiona phenomenon responsible for the appearance of pimples.

What properties does this microalgae have?

Originally, researchers had discovered the beneficial properties of this microalga on cancer cells. “We then realized that the molecules present in the seaweed had a potential for this skin disease. »

This passage between oncology and dermato-cosmetic application was made possible by discovering this principle: “Photoactivatable molecules have this characteristic, once excited, of releasing their energy in a non-targeted way, and therefore can be effective on the bacterium which causes acne. In the long term, we could find that the seaweed is effective on other pathologies, by continuing the research”, adds Jean-Baptiste Béraud.

“Three to five years for a developed product”

As a reminder, acne is a very common skin pathology, mainly affecting the teenagers and the young adults of both sexes. It occurs during hormonal changes especially during adolescence, according to the High Authority of Health.

“This is the first time that an algae-based solution has been proposed to fight against acne”, recalls Jean-Baptiste Béraud. This plant has already been used in cosmetology, but on different extracts, and never photoactivated.

To obtain these anti-acne creams based on microalgae, you will still have to wait. “It’s hard to estimate, but I’m counting on three to five years to have a product developed, because research takes time and is expensive,” adds the researcher. Shorter than a drug, therefore, but not immediately.

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