Researchers have identified a bacterial protein that resides on human skin and has the potential to protect individuals from several skin diseases including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin cancer. The skin bacterium — Propionibacterium acnes — is a commonly known bacteria that resides on human skin and takes its name from being first discovered on a patient with severe acne.
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But whether it causes acne is uncertain — it may have been present merely because it is so common, the researchers said. The study found that the propionibacterium acnes secretes a protein called RoxP. This protein protects against what is known as oxidative stress, a condition in which reactive oxygen species damage cells.
“This protein is important for the bacterium’s very survival on our skin. The bacterium improves its living environment by secreting RoxP, but in doing so it also benefits us,” said Rolf Lood from Lund University in Sweden.
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The protein has an equally strong effect on dangerous oxygen species as known antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, the study stated. A common cause of oxidative stress — considered to be a contributing factor in several skin diseases, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin cancer — on the skin is ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun.
The researchers plan to conduct further studies involving both humans and animal models.
“If the study results are positive, they could lead to the inclusion of RoxP in sunscreens and its use in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis,” Lood added, in the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.