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Identified: New genetic variants linked to acne

A new study that analyzed genetic data from more than 20,000 individuals with acne has identified 29 additional genetic variants linked to the highly heritable skin disorder. This information may produce some potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of acne, according to the researchers. The paper was published in Nature Communications (

This study was led by investigators at the St John's Institute of Dermatology at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane.

The researchers assessed nine genome-wide association study datasets from around the world that had scanned the complete genomes of 20,165 people with acne and 595,231 without acne. In addition to the 29 new variants identified, the study confirmed 14 of the 17 variants known to be associated with acne. In total, the number of known genetic variants in acne has increased to 46.

They also identified a link between the genetic risk of acne and disease severity, a finding that may lead to the ability to provide early intervention in individuals at risk of developing severe disease and avoid complications such as scarring.

“We know that the causes of acne are complicated, with a mix of biological factors such as genetics and hormones, and environmental factors. Understanding the genetics of the condition will help us to disentangle some of these causes and find the best way to treat the condition. This is a really promising area for further study, and opens up a lot of avenues for research," said senior author Professor Michael Simpson, in a press release. Dr. Simpson is Head of the Genomic Medicine Group, King's College London.


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