Microscopy: looking closely for acne cures

Turbo-charging existing acne medications as well as developing better therapies with some very hi-tech microscopes is the focus for Harvard Medical School Professor, Conor Evans.

Turbo-charging acne medications with microscopy

Turbo-charging existing acne medications as well as developing better therapies with some very hi-tech microscopes is the focus for Harvard Medical School Professor, Conor Evans. All About Acne recently had a chance to speak with this scientist and researcher whose interest in acne is professional and very personal.

“When I started at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, I was really interested in exploring interactions between light and tissue. That led to the realisation that the tools and technology I had in my lab for imaging might also be useful for learning about acne and acne therapies,” he explained.

“I was one of those kids with severe acne. I understand how it makes you feel, the impact it can have on so many areas of your life, so the motivation to improve acne therapies is also very personal.”

Advanced microscopy is Professor Evans’ field of research which involves scanning lasers around in tissues to better understand how they’re reacting to acne therapies.

“Our research focuses on two areas. We’re taking a close look at existing treatments we have and working to turbocharge them. For example, with oral antibiotics, we’re seeing how we can deliver those drugs more effectively to the skin to lessen side effects. Secondly, we’re working with colleagues to build new and better therapies for acne patients,” said Professor Evans.

“One of my microscopes uses fluorescence, allowing us to ‘light up’ specific molecules in skin to see how sebaceous (oil) glands react to acne therapies. Another imaging tool enables us to track drugs within the skin to see how they accumulate and where they go.”

Acne cures are coming, but beware of ‘snake oil’

Having experienced acne, Professor Evans is all too familiar with the desperate search for a cure. Being a researcher, he’s also very familiar with the number of ‘acne cures’ talked about almost daily online.

“There is a lot of information online that we in the research community can’t back up. I feel concerned when I read some of this online – there’s a lot of snake oil,” he said.

“We’re working hard, the cures are coming! For now, effective treatments are available, so talk to a doctor or a dermatologist and seek help from a healthcare professional for your acne.”

Professor Evans is based at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

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All About Acne Team
The All About Acne team – the authors of this site – are a group of medically-trained skin experts from across Australia who have an interest in acne management. Our experienced team of leading dermatologists guarantees the information on this website is independent and based on the highest quality research available.