Novan Therapeutics’ nitric oxide-releasing acne drug candidate SB204 reduces colonization of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) in the skin of healthy volunteers, according to a Phase I study.

In the Phase 1 study of 30 participants, twice daily administration of the topical product was safe and “the treatment was extremely well tolerated,” the study authors report. Specifically, several subjects demonstrated a greater than 90% reduction of P. acnes when treated with SB204; no vehicle-treated subjects exhibited such a response. Moreover, a statistically significant difference in P. acnes counts was observed between active and vehicle after 2 weeks. A Phase 2 study is ongoing with results expected in early 2014.

While antibiotic therapy is a mainstay in the treatment of acne, its use and efficacy has dwindled due to the rise of super bugs. Nitric oxide is an antimicrobial with a low propensity for resistance and is part of the human body’s natural immune response to bacteria.