IT is a condition that blights the lives of millions of teenagers and young adults. Now scientists have made a breakthrough in the hunt for something of a medical holy grail a treatment for acne. A vaccine which promises to halt a key cause of the unsightly and painful condition could be available within as little as five years, they say. The breakthrough approach is a departure from current treatments, which mostly rely on antibiotics to 'blitz the bacteria that cause spots. The medicines can upset the skins natural balance and leave some sufferers at risk of scarring. Scientists at the University of California at San Diego are working in partnership with the worlds biggest vaccine company, Sanofi Pasteur, to create the jab. Rather than focusing on eliminating the main acne-causing bacteria, P-Acnes, it aims to neutralise a 'troublemaking protein produced by the germs and key to the formation of spots. Acne is caused when the skins sebaceous glands produce too much sebum the skins natural moisturiser clogging the pores. The protein then starts killing skin cells, causing the body to try to fight back with inflammation, flooding the area with white blood cells. The result is sore pimples. The experts, carrying out tests on the skin on the ears of mice, created antibodies which home in on the protein and 'turn it off. Mice given doses of bacteria treated with the antibodies developed much less inflammation than those given untreated bugs. DM