Lauric acid, a natural product found in coconut oil and human breast milk, could become the latest acne treatment thanks to research by Dissaya “Nu” Pornpattananangkul, a bioengineering graduate student from the University of California, San Diego, Jacobs School of Engineering. Her research was published in the American Chemical Society journal in March 2010.
According to a report from the university, Pornpattananangkul developed a smart delivery system capable of delivering lauric acid-filled nano-scale liposome "bombs" directly to the skin-dwelling bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. While current acne treatments reportedly can impart undesirable side effects such as redness and burning, this lauric acid-based treatment could avoid such effects.
The new smart delivery system, as described by the university, includes gold nanoparticles attached to surfaces of lauric acid-filled liposomes—i.e., nano-bombs. The nanoparticles keep the liposomes from fusing together and also help to locate acne-causing bacteria. Once the liposomes reach the bacterial membranes, the acidic microenvironment causes the gold nanoparticles to drop off, which frees the liposomes carrying lauric acid payloads to fuse with bacterial membranes and kill the P. acnes bacteria.
This research provides a new approach toward the development of effective anti-acne treatments. In addition, it provides and interesting new case in favor of applying nanoparticles for topical skin care.
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