Each year since 1976, the world’s largest gathering of identical and fraternal twins takes place in the aptly named Twinsburg, OH. Families from across the U.S. attend Twins Day Festival for a few days of games, events, music, contests, and seeing double. Researchers also enthusiastically attend with questionnaires and recruiting materials in hand to better understand the genetic versus lifestyle components of various conditions. With an abundance of identical twins with identical genomes, the Twins Day Festival presents a unique opportunity for researchers.
The Medical Director of the Acne Treatment and Research Center, Dr. Hilary Baldwin, recruited twins to help clarify three research questions:
1.) What is the relationship between diet and acne?
2.) Are laser masks an effective at-home treatment for reducing acne lesions?
3.) What is the degree of concordance between identical twins for acne itself, acne severity, and acne type and location compared to fraternal twins and identical twins without acne?
With banners, questionnaires, help from enthusiastic medical students, and experience raising beautiful twin daughters, Dr. Baldwin successfully recruited and physically examined 70 identical twins and15 fraternal twins. Each twin received a questionnaire inquiring about dietary habits, stress reduction techniques, past treatments, skincare routines, acne severity/type/location, and quality of life that will be analyzed by a research team. The physical examination performed by Dr. Baldwin verified the severity, type, and location of the acne lesions as indicated by the twins. For the laser study, Dr. Baldwin recruited 50 twin pairs: one twin will receive a laser therapy mask to use at home and the other twin will serve as the control. Both twins will routinely upload pictures of their acne to a database to analyze the effectiveness of the masks.
“I’m extremely pleased with the number of twins that took our questionnaires and signed up for the laser mask study. We exceeded recruiting expectations,” said Dr. Baldwin. “This is an important study because it wasn’t just surveys about acne, it also combined acne severity evaluation by a dermatologist. I hope to see several research papers published from attending this event.” Once her team analyzes the data, the results will represent one of the largest acne and diet/lifestyle studies ever conducted with onsite examination of acne lesions by a dermatologist. “This event really helps to place the Acne Treatment and Research Center at the forefront of acne research. We will stay in touch with all of the twins going forward as their willingness to participate has been and will continue to be invaluable in helping us find a cure for acne.”