For many teenagers, acne is an embarrassing skin condition that can undermine their confidence. But a new game out of Duquesne University aims to help teens understand the immunology behind acne and how they can manage it.

Created by Duquesne's The Partnership in Education, Dermis Defense is a game that allows players to help the main character, Benji, beat his acne breakouts. The goal is to have Benji clear up his skin in time for his big musical debut.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. and it's estimated that 85 percent of people age 12-24 experience at least minor acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Targeted to children age 12-16, the app combines colorful storytelling with fast paced, arcade-style game play to teach teens about what's going on under their skin during a breakout. While playing the game, users learn how the immune system goes into overdrive to manage bacterial infections, like those that cause acne.

Available as a web-based browser game and as a mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play, Dermis Defense is available to play for free.

"The bane of adolescence is actually a great example of how the immune system responds to challenges," said Dr. John Pollock, professor of biological sciences at Duquesne University and the game's creator. "While playing the game, teens can relate to Benji's concerns and learn more about how the body fights skin conditions like acne."

Dermis Defense is produced by Pollock's team at The Partnership in Education including Brinley Kantorski, director of education and multimedia development for the group. The organization hosts a wide range of educational and multimedia resources for school children, including Emmy Award winning educational television programs, apps, animated movies and teaching curriculum, most of which is available for free to educators.


Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The Universitys academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

It's time for bigger goals
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June 15, 2020