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Johnson & Johnson buys into bacteria for skin care

By Deanna Utroske

01-Sep-2016
Last updated on 01-Sep-2016 at 17:15 GMT2016-09-01T17:15:26Z

Johnson & Johnson buys into bacteria for skin care

The consumer side of J&J signed a research agreement, just last month, with Xycrobe Therapeutics to explore how engineered bacteria can be used in personal care and skin treatment products.

Based in LaJolla, California, Xycrobe Therapeutics is a biotech company that aims “to leverage the vast amount of data being generated from human microbiome research,” according the company splash page.

Critical relationships

Xycrobe Therapeutics is currently working with several commensal organism strains—that is bacteria that have a very close relationship with the human body. The company’s valuable asset is a “library” of bacteria “engineered to grow and secrete biotherapeutics as needed to help treat an array of skin issues,” according to a press release on the research agreement.

In partnership, J&J and Xycrobe will be investigating how this technology can be used commercially and therapeutically to address inflammatory skin conditions. Xycrobe expects that limiting inflammation with this biotheraperutic technology will have applications for acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.

Scientific shift

Numerous companies, in and beyond the personal care industry, are at work on research involving the skin’s microbiome. Some are developing ingredients that are gentler and disrupt the body’s bacteria less than conventional ingredients do. Others are focused on restoring and maintaining the microbiome to what could be called its original state. And here, it seems that J&J’s new research may turn the microbiome into a sort of delivery mechanism for actives.

“The current paradigm for treating skin conditions, such as acne, completely disregards the importance of the commensal skin flora,” explains Thomas Hitchcock, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Xycrobe, in the press release. “We feel that the key to better treatment solutions for skin disease lies in understanding our body's interaction with the skin microbiome, and how we can leverage this information,” he adds.

Business is good

“Xycrobe's innovative technology and approach has great potential to change the way we think about how we treat acne and it's good to see a big player working with this emerging company,” says Hilary Baldwin, a member of the Xycrobe advisory board and medical doctor with the Acne Treatment Research Center, in the company’s press release about the deal with J&J.

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