While all teenagers experience acne at some level, severe cases can be devastating. What’s more, not everyone outgrows this phase with acne being the most common skin condition in adults. Despite many options for treatment, none are particularly good at treating the underlying causes and some therapies come with substantial side effects.
Through a generous gift from the [MCJ Amelior Foundation], the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai embarked on the largest acne study to establish a multiscale biological network for acne, integrating patient DNA sequence data, gene expression profiling and microbial metagenomic data to capture the key aspects driving the pathology. The objective is to help catalyze the identification of new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of acne.
Our group enrolled 76 subjects (56 with acne and 20 healthy controls) in our clinical study. The size and scope of the study is the most comprehensive data collection to date, representing the greatest single increase in the available data for understanding acne pathophysiology. We finished profiling and analyzing the first batch of slightly more than half the samples. Although we are only halfway through the sample processing and analysis, we found that acne lesions are enriched with specific cell types, including T-cell subsets, monocytes, and neutrophils. Acne patients may have an altered process for selecting self-reactive T-cells that suggest novel therapeutic targets. When we compared acne to other diseases, we found that inflammatory bowel disease showed a strong molecular similarity, which opens up the possibility of drug-repurposing options. We provided the first construction of the complete blood cell lineage for each acne subject. This new tool allows us to explore the individual variation in specific blood cell types and how they connect to acne severity.