While there are a myriad of acne treatments on the market, your average teenager knows that they’re not very effective. Researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara and Sebacia (Duluth, GA), a clinical-stage medical device company have developed a novel approach to treating acne using a high-tech combination of ultrasound, gold coated particles and lasers.
Acne is the most common skin disorder in the US, affecting more than 40 million Americans at a cost of more than $2 billion. It is caused by a build up of oily sebum and the hair, dirt and other materials which it traps leading to blocked pores. This blockage results in inflammation and infection which manifest as lesions on the skin. The new technique inhibits the production of sebum, essentially getting down to the root cause of the problem. It works by injecting gold-coated silica nanoparticles into the sebaceous glands and heating them up.
The injection is done with the assistance of an ultrasound transducer, which shakes and pushes the nanoparticles through the follicle and into the sebaceous glands. Once the 150 nm particles are in position, a conventional dermatology near-infrared laser light is illuminated over the treatment sites. The nanoparticles are sensitive to this frequency of light, in turn resonating and generating local points of heat. This heat is able to prevent the treated sebaceous glands from generating any more sebum, preventing any potential blockage of follicles and stopping acne at the source.
The technology has so far demonstrated positive results in two European clinical trials. Sebacia have announced a significant 60% reduction in inflammatory lesion count at six months, with mild side effects of swelling and redness. The primary advantages of the technology is the diminished risk of resistance or long term side effects associated with systemic treatments. Interestingly, and perhaps being a challenge to receiving rapid regulatory approval, is that this is the first application of ultrasound delivered nanoparticles being used in human subjects.
Study in Journal of Controlled Release: Ultrasonic delivery of silica–gold nanoshells for photothermolysis of sebaceous glands in humans: Nanotechnology from the bench to clinic
Source: UC Santa Barbara