How Likely Is A Vaccine for Acne?

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Christopher Bunick, MD, discusses the future progress of acne management—including a potential mRNA vaccine current in development.

As Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD, discussed with HCPLive during the 2022 Fall Clinical Dermatology Meeting this week, the present-day field of acne vulgaris medicine and research is thriving—despite competing for headlines with essentially every other field of chronic skin disease today.

But even greater may be the future of acne treatment, on a multitude of fronts.

In the final segment of an interview with HCPLive during Fall Clinical, Bunick, associate professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, discussed a trio of topics he hopes lead the next decade of discussion around acne.

First, he anticipates antibiotic stewardship will become bolstered for prescribers of acne, who generally lean on proven and effective topical agents very frequently.

“I think (stewardship) has been largely ignored because we don’t necessarily see problems with our patients, but some of the data does suggest that it’s there,” Bunick said. “And as we learn more about the human gut and the skin microbiome, we realize how the antibiotics interact with the microbiome are very important.”

Next, Bunick hopes to see developments in tailored acne care for skin of color.

“When it comes to acne, we know certainly that patients of color tend to have more post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” he said. “And I think the innovation and focus on how to better reduce the hyperpigmentation in those patients is a very important need to address.”

Lastly, Bunick anticipates an acne vaccine may become developed: among other options, an mRNA candidate recently acquired by Sanofi will begin investigations in the very near future.

“I’m very curious to see how it performs, because I think in the end, the reason all of us dermatologists like treating acne because the difference it could make in a patient’s lives,” he said.

It’s critical for clinicians to address the entirety of patients’ health when addressing acne vulgaris, Buncik explained—many severe patients suffer psychosocial burdens along with risk of permanent skin damage.

“I really enjoy being able to help someone feel better about themselves and get back into life and not have to worry about their acne,” he explained. “A vaccine potentially changes the game, because in the end, we don’t want patients to suffer from scarring or disfiguring changes in their skin.”