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Blame the Follicles

A new genetic analysis suggests hair follicles may have a role to play in the development of acne, New Scientist reports.

Researchers from King's College London conducted a genome-wide association study for acne among 26,722 individuals. Acne affects about 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30, but study co-author Jonathan Barker from the UK's National Institute for Health Research tells New Scientist that there have been few advances in acne treatment in recent years.

Through their GWAS, Barker and his colleagues identified a dozen novel acne risk loci, as they report this week in Nature Communications. These loci implicated genes such as WNT10A, LGR6, TP63 and LAMC2, which the researchers note are involved in the development, morphology, and activity of hair follicles.

"It may be that the genetic variation influences the shape of these hair follicles and makes them more prone to bacteria and inflammation, which are a characteristic of acne," adds King's College London's Michael Simpson in a statement. "A number of the genetic variants point to interesting mechanisms that could be really good targets for new drugs or treatments that would really help patients."