Some failed research on a way to keep food fresh may hold a key to fighting acne.

Microbiologist Susan Barefoot investigated the bacteria that gives Swiss cheese its holes, hoping that propionibacter would prove to be a good food preservative. But it wasn't. As a last resort, Barefoot had her graduate students try something different. Since propionibacter is a distant relative of the bacteria that causes human acne, they tested it on 150 samples of acne bacteria -- hoping to find a new acne medication. This time it worked against every single strain they tested - all 150.

Acne bacteria does not become resistant to propionibacter as it does to other products. Barefoot is hoping to move this breakthrough from her lab to your medicine cabinet. She has received several government grants and has partnered with the Immucell Corp., a biotechnology company. A cream made from propionibacter could be on the shelves within five years.

Reported 9/2/02; checked 8/9/05

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